Pennsylvania Town Sees Their Water Cleared by EPA

Dimock, Pennsylvania has gotten quite a bit of attention in recent months.  Yesterday didn't bring the outcome that residents expected or hoped for.

After Dimock residents complained that fracking by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) had contaminated their drinking water with methane, making it hazardous to their health.  They called for the federal government to intervene in their dispute with Cabot.

However, as reported in several places yesterday and today, including Bloomberg Businessweek and, EPA test results on eleven wells in the area has revealed no hazardous chemical levels.  In a statement released by the EPA yesterday they said that the tests revealed sodium, methane, chromium, or bacteria, but only at levels "within the safe range."  More after the jump...

There was concern on two wells that showed elevated levels of arsenic, although they were still within the safe range.  The results exceeded what the agency describes as "trigger levels" based on risk-based screening levels or public drinking water standards.  The compounds were reviewed by a toxicologist quickly after the elevated levels were discovered to determine if immediate action to provide water to those residents was necessary.  "EPA conducted those reviews and found no health concerns," said agency spokesman Roy Seneca.

However, further tests will still be conducted at those homes.  "Although the (arsenic) levels meet drinking water standards, we will resample to better characterize the water quality of these wells," said EPA spokesman Roy Seneca in the statement.

Area residents were disappointed and a little skeptical when presented with the test results, including local resident Craig Sautner, who is part of a lawsuit against Cabot.  "If they say it's safe to drink, I want to see them come drink the water from my well," Sautner said.  He claims that his water is cloudy, and that he hears gas gurgling in when he draws water from his well.

Scott Ely, another resident, said his test results showed five compounds above their trigger levels, including arsenic, chromium, lithium, sodium, and fluoride.  The arsenic level in his well water was 7.6 micrograms per liter.  This is below the federal drinking water standard of 10 micrograms per liter, but is above the 3 micrograms per liter chronic drinking water screen level for children established by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  Ely has three small children living in his home, and he says the test results reveal "nothing surprising: my water is contaminated."

Last year, Cabot stated that its tests of water in the area showed no signs of contaminants beyond legal limits, and thus cut off water deliveries to residents.  State officials agreed with Cabot to allow deliveries to cease, and the EPA later stepped in to deliver water to area homes.

In an email yesterday Cabot said "We are pleased that data released by EPA today on sampling of water in Dimock confirmed earlier findings that Dimock drinking water meets all regulatory standards."

Meanwhile, others who are not area residents expressed different sentiments.  "EPA should be increasing the alarm about arsenic showing up at elevated levels near gas drilling," said Iris Marie Bloom, who serves as the head of Protecting Our Waters, an anti-fracking group in Philadelphia.  "I would not want to be drinking arsenic, and neither would you."

The EPA tested about 60 homes in Dimock, and more results will be released over time.  It will be interesting to see what the further sample reveals.  You can be sure that if even one home is over the standards established for any chemical, anti-fracking activists will jump all over it.

There is a segment in Carroll County, and really in every area affected by the shale boom, that is very opposed to fracking.  How do you feel about the results of these tests in Dimock?  Does it give you added confidence that we don't need to worry about fracking, or more reason to worry?

Visit our Forum!

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Popular posts from this blog

Fracktivist in Dimock Releases Carefully Edited Video, Refuses to Release the Rest

The Second Largest Oil and Gas Merger - Cabot and Cimarex

Is a Strong Oil Demand Expected This Year?