Residents of a small town called Dimock, PA, said fracking is polluting their drinking wells and now regulators are getting into the act as they will perform tests on 60 homes to get to the cause of the matter.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will truck water to four homes in the town where some households have relied on water deliveries since drilling by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. began there three years ago.
The tests will “further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns,” the EPA said.
An interesting aspect to this case is this move is a complete change from an earlier decision by the EPA that said the water in town was completely safe to drink. That all changed, however, when residents provided additional data.
Dimock, located just above the Marcellus shale deposit, has become the center of the issue of fracking, which involves pumping millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into shale rock deep below the ground.
Fracking has unlocked decades of U.S. natural gas supply, but environmentalists say it contaminates water supplies. Energy companies have said fracking poses no threat to drinking water.
Cabot spokesman George Stark said the company has tested and sampled water from more than 2,000 wells in the area over the past several years and does not have data showing drilling is the cause of “alleged health concerns purported by the EPA.”
Dimock residents began complaining of cloudy, foul-smelling water in 2008 after Cabot began fracking nearby.
Cabot had trucked water to a dozen Dimock households for three years until November when state regulators agreed it could stop.
Since then, residents have relied on water deliveries arranged by environmental groups including Water Defense and Sierra Club, though the sporadic deliveries have barely been enough. Some have been using pondwater for showers.
As fracking increases in the United States and contributes to an energy boom, the EPA is conducting a national study to determine its impacts.
A recent EPA draft report showed that harmful chemicals from fracking fluids were likely present in a Wyoming aquifer near the town of Pavillion.