Federal environmental officials said this week they will “consider conducting additional testing on residential water supplies in northeast Pennsylvania, where residents believe it has been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling for natural gas.
Reuters reports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said they’d revisit Dimock, Pa., after receiving “hundreds of pages” of documents from residents of the small town which provides evidence that widespread fracking in the area has contaminated their water wells. The EPA recently ruled the water in Dimock “safe” despite being presented with ample evidence to the contrary. Regulators now admit there must be more testing conducted on water samples in and around Dimock.
The tiny Pennsylvania town was made famous by the HBO documentary “Gasland” as it’s the hometown of the movie’s director and situated atop the state’s vast Marcellus shale formation, a boon for natural gas and fracking drilling companies which have preyed upon it by taking advantage of lax safety regulations covering fracking.
Thousands of fracking wells have been dug in northeast Pennsylvania and thousands more across the state and Mid Atlantic region. The shale formation extends from Ohio and West Virginia through must of western and northern Pennsylvania, into New York and New Jersey. While drilling advocates maintain fracking is safe and a means by which the nation can reduce its need for foreign oil, fracking has left a trail of environmental and health disaster.
In Dimock (as shown in the documentary) residents believe methane gas levels in their wells allows them the opportunity to set their tap water on fire, a nifty science experiment by extremely dangerous to residents and their health. Many people in the area have been forced to find alternative sources of fresh water as fracking has contaminated their water to the point where it’s unusable even for bathing.
The federal government, specifically the EPA, have maintained for several years since the fracking boom began, that the process through which injecting hundreds of thousands of fresh water, sand, a drill and a mix of nearly 600 chemicals (at least 60 of them known toxins), into an underground well shaft until they reach shale formations thousands of feet below the surface. Due to questionable drilling practices, including shoddily constructed wells, many who neighbor active fracking wells believe the chemicals used in fracking have broken from those wells and seeped into groundwater supplies.
Some Dimock residents who’ve been without fresh water supply for three years have been told by the EPA that their water will be retested within two weeks, according to the Reuters report. The agency ruled in November that water supplies in Dimock were not affected by fracking but the report quotes several local residents who said the federal agency has never tested their water. Instead, the EPA is believed to have relied upon the sampling conducted by Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil & Gas, a drilling company with wells dotting the landscape in Pennsylvania.