Times Leader Update on Dimock, PA Water Well Contamination

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader is following the story of the natural gas-contaminated water wells in Dimock, PA. Overall the article is pretty even-handed in its treatment of the issue and worth a read. In covering “both sides” of the issue, they reveal some of the facts in the case:

The company [Cabot Oil & Gas] and DEP [PA Department of Environmental Protection] agree that the gas isn’t from Marcellus Shale, a pipeline leak or naturally occurring sources above ground. They also concur that the gas is likely from a gas-laden upper layer of underground Devonian shale, of which the Marcellus Shale is a component but thousands of feet deeper, [DEP spokesman Mark] Carmon said. Marcellus Shale is generally at least 5,000 feet underground, while DEP determined the gas contaminating the water wells came from a shale layer roughly between 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet deep, Carmon said.

The company has cemented the upper Devonian shale layers of several wells, effectively extending the cement seals from the bottom of the water-bearing region, where the seals usually stop, to the bottom of the upper shale layers. The department has been trying to isolate the exact source of gas, seeing whether the extended seals produce a drop in water-contamination levels, Carmon said.

Because the method of contamination hasn’t been determined, Carmon said it’s too early to tell if Cabot knowingly violated regulations. “I’m not aware of anything blatant or anything like that, but, again, we want to know how did it happen,” he said.

Other news outlets would do well to follow the Times Leader’s example and get their facts straight before running stories about the Dimock situation.

Read the full article: Consequences of gas drilling still unknown