EPA finds water OK af­ter drilling

The Washington Times Daily - - Business -

SCRAN­TON, PA. (AP) | Fed­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tors said Thurs­day that well­wa­ter test­ing at 11 homes in a north­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia vil­lage where a gas driller was ac­cused of pol­lut­ing the aquifer failed to show el­e­vated lev­els of con­tam­i­na­tion.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, which is sam­pling well water at dozens of homes in Dimock, Susque­hanna County, said ini­tial test re­sults “did not show lev­els of con­tam­i­na­tion that could present a health con­cern.”

Dimock has been at the cen­ter of a fierce de­bate over the en­vi­ron­men­tal and public health im­pacts of Penn­syl­va­nia’s Mar­cel­lus Shale drilling in­dus­try.

State en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tors had pre­vi­ously de­ter­mined that Hous­ton-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. con­tam­i­nated the aquifer un­der­neath homes along Carter Road in Dimock with ex­plo­sive lev­els of meth­ane gas. Res­i­dents who are su­ing Cabot as­sert their water is also pol­luted with drilling chem­i­cals.

Many other res­i­dents of Dimock say that the water is clean and that the plain­tiffs are ex­ag­ger­at­ing prob­lems with their wells to help their law­suit.

The fed­eral agency be­gan test­ing the water in Jan­uary, more than a month af­ter the state Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion al­lowed Cabot to stop de­liv­er­ing re­place­ment water to about a dozen fam­i­lies.

The EPA said water sam­ples from six of the 11 homes for which it re­ceived ini­tial test re­sults showed sodium, meth­ane, chromium or bac­te­ria, but at lev­els that did not ex­ceed pri­mary or sec­ondary drink­ing water stan­dards. Ar­senic was found in the well water of two homes, but at lev­els that did not present a health haz­ard, reg­u­la­tors said.

Of the 11 homes, EPA has been de­liv­er­ing fresh water to three homes where it said prior test re­sults had showed alarm­ing lev­els of con­tam­i­na­tion. EPA said it will con­tinue sup­ply­ing water to the homes “while we per­form ad­di­tional sam­pling to en­sure that the drink­ing water qual­ity at these homes re­mains con­sis­tent and ac­cept­able for use over time.”

Cabot said in a state­ment that it is pleased by the EPA test re­sults and that it is “stead­fastly com­mit­ted to en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, col­lab­o­ra­tion with state reg­u­la­tors, and com­pli­ance with all ap­pli­ca­ble fed­eral, state and lo­cal laws.”

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