New Report Says No Health Threats from Spills in Dimock PA

In December 2009, Dimock Township (PA) resident Scott Ely, an employee of Cabot Oil & Gas drilling subsidiary GasSearch Drilling Services, made claims of hidden or ignored spills, leaking pits and shoddy practices to both state environmental regulators and Cabot officials. Ely identified 11 sites where he said such problems had occurred. Cabot contracted with URS Corp. to investigate the claims and either prove or disprove them. A final URS report has just been issued which says it found nothing in the streams, ponds and soil it sampled at levels that would pose a risk to human health.

The report (a copy is embedded below) says URS did find some substances which may indicate past spills from natural gas drilling operations, but that the substances they found do not have state-mandated limits for soil and water.

Both Cabot and Mr. Ely have differing interpretations of the findings:

In a statement, Cabot spokesman George Stark said the study "scientifically confirms that Mr. Ely was either mistaken or incorrect in every case" and that "no environmental harm or threat existed or exists for any incident alleged by Mr. Ely."

The company spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period to have each allegation investigated for environmental impact" and found that Mr. Ely’s allegations "lacked substance," he said.

Lawyers with the New York firm Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik who represent Mr. Ely in a lawsuit against Cabot declined to comment on the report because of pending litigation but said the chemicals found at the well sites clearly support Mr. Ely’s story. They also noted that the study failed to investigate groundwater near the well sites.

Mr. Ely said the report "proves that I wasn’t lying about what was happening on the job sites."*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Dec 15, 2011) – Cabot report finds chemicals but no health threats in whistleblower investigation

  • jwozniak

    Science is often fudged, especially when large sums of money are involved. I want to see a report conducted by a neutral third party, Which also leaves out Penn State, which is awash in industry money.

  • Ok, so what they’re saying here is that there ARE substances in the Dimock water resulting from drilling activities, but that those substances don’t have state mandated limits.  Well, could it be that when those limits were created when no one had any idea of the toxic mix of chemicals that were to be used in the fracking process, so they had no need too include them? Not that they can’t make you sick or even kill you, but that no one thought about limiting substances that they never expected to find in our well water. I think it’s long overdue for the EPA, PA legislature, and the PA DEP take another look and provide some real protection for our residents, instead of just ignoring the liabilities that this industry MUST be held accountable for.  We need to protect our citizens as our first priority, rather than secondary to the interests of the O&G industry.

  • Anonymous

    Your headline is incorrect.  It is Cabot who claimed that “No Health Threats” were found.  The consultant’s report found elevated concentrations of typical frac chemicals of surfactants, ethylene glycol, and/or diesel at half the sites but makes no comment reguarding health threats.

  • Anonymous

    Thje report does NOT contain
    any TABLES containing the actual analytic data
    any FIGURES showing the actual sampling locations
    nor any APPENDICES showing Work Plan, Sampling Protocol
    any logs of drill borings
    or any certificates of analysis
    As such, it amounts to nothing more than a dog and pony show indicating that while nothing was found, anything that was found was not important.
    How good it feels!