Who’s Really at Fault
Again, its very easy to blame an industry and “poorly constructed” gas wells but, what about poorly constructed water wells? Pennsylvania has no standard for water well construction, meaning anyone can go drill a hole to receive water and call it a well. Some of the water wells in the area are decades old. These water wells have the potential to fail, just like gas wells. For example, near Nicole’s property wells have to be vented for methane and sulfur and have been for years prior to any natural gas development. These issues are likely due to placement and poor water well construction.
Even the placement of wells can influence the pollutants found in the water. People shouldn’t just care about the natural gas industry. They need to ask things like, “was there an old gas station nearby,” “is there an old dump close,” or “has the well ever been vented for methane or sulfur.” When Cabot was seismic testing in Susquehanna County they found methane at only 20 feet! There are many other elements that can affect water quality besides natural gas development. Instead of taking a step back and looking at facts, the gas industry is instead scapegoated based on emotion and fear.
These naturally occurring problems are due to poor water well casing and construction. Another issue is the type of pipe used in the constructions process. Many people with black coil pipe down their wells are experiencing elevated levels of contamination. According to Oram, this contamination is due to the black plastic and how it releases plasticizers. These issues were not known at the time of water well construction.
Addressing the Problems
Oram is very clear in his presentations there is potential for surface spills or migration of methane due to structural issues with natural gas well casings or disturbance from the drilling process. However, he also acknowledges the strides being made and technological advances to mitigate these risks.
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