EPA: No water contamination from shale drilling

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 15, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Well water tests in the northeastern Pennsylvania town of Dimock have not found unsafe levels of contamination from Marcellus Shale gas drilling that warrant further action, according to federal environmental regulators.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency test findings released last week for 12 homes, found one with elevated levels of methane and the agency informed the residents as well as state and county agencies.

It was the fourth and last release of test results for 59 homes in the rural Susquehanna County community featured in the 2010 documentary “Gasland,” where residents say shale gas drilling has contaminated their water.

The EPA began testing water in Dimock in January.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., which started drilling for Marcellus Shale gas near Dimock in 2008, and was cited and fined for faulty well casing construction by the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the EPA findings reaffirm its water test results.

“As with the previous sampling results, EPA found that Dimock drinking water meets all regulatory standards,” the Houston, Texas-based driller said in a statement. “The EPA again did not indicate that those contaminants that were detected bore any relationship to gas development in the Dimock area.”

The DEP determined in 2010 that Cabot’s wells had caused methane to contaminate part of the aquifer under Dimock, and about a dozen Dimock residents sued Cabot. The company, however, has denied that it caused the contamination and attributed the methane in the well water to conditions existing before it began drilling.

Methane is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It is often found in Pennsylvania groundwater and well water, and can be produced by a number of sources, including landfills, coal mines, wetlands and gas wells. While it is not considered harmful to drink, it is flammable in higher concentrations.

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