EPA Tells Dimock Families Their Water is Safe to Use

thumbs upA new email from the federal Environmental Protection Agency says the water wells for 19 affected families in Dimock, PA have tested fine and do not pose a threat to those families. Yet, some of those families are still grabbing headlines by playing the victim, claiming their water is undrinkable. Who to believe?

The Dimock situation is difficult to understand, being shrouded in so many layers of publicity stunts it’s hard to know what the real story is. As near as MDN can tell, in a nutshell:

  • Several years ago Cabot Oil & Gas drilled Marcellus gas wells in the Dimock area.
  • Dimock is known to have methane (natural gas) in local well water supplies, prior to Cabot’s drilling.
  • However, the state DEP says that Cabot did not properly case several of those wells, and it caused methane to leak into nearby water wells for 19 families.
  • Cabot denies that it improperly cased the wells, and has maintained their innocence from the beginning.
  • Cabot was instructed to provide potable water to the homes, and to install water methane filtering systems for all of the homes, which they did.
  • Cabot wants to stop trucking the water because the filtering systems work and make the water free of methane, suitable for use.
  • However, at least some of the families refuse to allow testing to be done by Cabot, apparently preferring to continue playing victim, grabbing headlines, and suing Cabot.
  • The state DEP, and federal EPA, have tested the water and concluded it’s fine to use, and that Cabot can now stop trucking water.

And now, headlines emblazon newspapers, interviewing affected family members that are “horrified” that Cabot will be allowed to stop trucking water. Nearby mayor of Binghamton, NY, Matt Ryan, is volunteering to send water to Dimock (wonder how the already over-taxed taxpayers of Binghamton will like that one). A press conference in New York City and subsequent bus trip (using evil fossil fuels) to Dimock have been scheduled to call attention to the “plight” of the families in Dimock. It all appears to be a PR stunt.

Here is the text of an email sent to Dimock residents on Friday, Dec. 2 from the federal EPA:

Subject: Follow-up status re: Nov 10, 2011 visit with Dimock PA residents

Dear Dimock Residents,

This email is a follow-up to the visits to Dimock area homes by EPA on November 10, 2011 and the subsequent review of well sampling data for wells impacted by the Cabot Oil and Gas Company drilling activities. EPA has conducted a preliminary review and screening of the data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and residents. While we are continuing our review, to date, the data does not indicate that the well water presents an immediate health threat to users. EPA will continue to review available information related to the concerns of Dimock area residents. We are continuing to work with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going forward on this issue.

Please feel free to call me or David Polish, Community Involvement Coordinator, at (215) 814-3327, if you have further questions.


Trish Taylor, Community Involvement Coordinator
Hazardous Site Cleanup Division (Mailcode 3HS52)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3
1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA., 19103
phone: (215) 814 – 5539
fax: (215) 814 – 3015

If you have first-hand knowledge of what’s happening with the affected families in Dimock, feel free to leave a comment and update us.

  • spaceman__spiff

    So the EPA has completely faulty science when they want to move ahead with the study of fracturing before every single detail of the methods are in place, but when they have a finding that supports an industry’s position they are the ultimate and final decider?

  • A false dichotomy and favorite debate tactic. No, I’m simply using your own source against you! You’re the one who believes they are the be-all and end-all, so you’re the one who has some explaining to do.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you that the Dimock water is most likely safe to drink, I was simply pointing out the inconsistencies with your argument. If there is no evidence of any change in scientific methodology or ability, it defies logic to be skeptical on one issue yet fully accept another without any investigation. Are you to tell us that if the EPA declared the Dimock water supply tainted/polluted/undrinkable, you would accept that at face value? I think not…

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  • Anonymous

    It seems like information indicates that Cabot requested the samples to be filtered PRIOR to any analysis. Bottom line is this is not conventional to do with drinking water samples and makes it totally infeasible to compare with any risk values. Cabot dropped the balls if this is correct.

    § 250.10. Measurement of regulated substances in media.
     (a)  For measuring regulated substances in soil and sediments, analyses shall be performed on a dry weight basis.
     (b)  For metals in soil, analyses shall be performed on total metals, except for hexavalent and trivalent chromium, which analyses shall be performed individually.
     (c)  For groundwater, samples for metals analysis shall be field filtered and field acidified in accordance with the most current version of the Groundwater Monitoring Guidance Manual, Department of Environmental Protection, 3610-BK-DEP1973.
     (d)  For groundwater where monitoring is being performed at a drinking water well, samples for metals analysis shall be field acidified and unfiltered in accordance with the most current version of Groundwater Monitoring Guidance Manual, Department of Environmental Protection, 3610-BK-DEP1973.
     (e)  For surface water, samples for metals analysis shall be field acidified in accordance with approved EPA analytical methods in §  16.102 (relating to approved EPA analytical methods and detection limits).
     (f)  For air, samples and analyses shall be performed in accordance with Chapters 131 and 139 (relating to ambient air quality standards; and sampling and testing).

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  • Anonymous

    It seems like the data is still being reviewed and the pro side has jumped the gun on this one. If samples were filtered and compared to risk levels they are useless.

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