The flakey federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its interference in Dimock, PA. Yesterday they announced (once again) they would start water deliveries to homes in the Dimock area—this time the commitment is to four homes. Recall that they made the same promise two weeks ago, then rescinded their promise within 24 hours (see this MDN story for their broken promise and a Dimock backgrounder). This time they’re going to do it, pinky swear promise. That is…unless they decide not to do it.
PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer has warned the EPA to not try and pull a “Pavillion” in Dimock, referring to the sloppy research the EPA has done in Pavillion, Wyoming and their cheeky attempt to try and tie fracking to groundwater contamination, even though the drilling in Pavillion is not shale drilling (see this MDN story).
The federal government will begin testing water supplies for 61 homes in Dimock Township as soon as today in a dramatic expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s current investigation into potential contamination by natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Susquehanna County village.
Citing its authority under the Superfund law, the EPA will also begin providing replacement drinking water supplies to four township homes where water tests taken by outside firms raised health concerns – some of them rising to the level of an "imminent and substantial threat" in houses where small children live, the agency said.
The EPA reached out to both the state Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., the Marcellus Shale driller active in the area, to ask if they would be interested in working with the agency as it collects data. Both agreed to cooperate Thursday, but indicated they were not convinced that the EPA’s actions are necessary.
"Our review, so far, tells us that EPA does not seem to have presented any new data here," DEP spokeswoman Katherine Gresh said. "More than a year ago, DEP’s enforcement action addressed this issue and ensured funds were set aside to resolve the water quality issues for these homeowners."
Cabot spokesman George Stark said the company’s tests show the Dimock well water meets federal health standards or reflects natural conditions and its operations are not responsible for the health concerns cited by the EPA. (1)
The official press release from the EPA:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it plans to perform water sampling at approximately 60 homes in the Carter Road/Meshoppen Creek Road area of Dimock, Pa. to further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns. EPA’s decision to conduct sampling is based on EPA’s review of data provided by residents, Cabot Oil and Gas, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“EPA is working diligently to understand the situation in Dimock and address residents’ concerns,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “We believe that the information provided to us by the residents deserves further review, and conducting our own sampling will help us fill information gaps. Our actions will be based on the science and the law and we will work to help get a more complete picture of water quality for these homes in Dimock.”
The sampling will begin in a matter of days and the agency estimates that it will take at least three weeks to sample all the homes. All sampling is contingent on access granted to the property. EPA expects validated results from quality-tested lab to be available in about five weeks after samples are taken.
In addition, EPA is taking action to ensure delivery of temporary water supplies to four homes where data reviewed by EPA indicates that residents’ well water contains levels of contaminants that pose a health concern. EPA will reevaluate this decision when it completes sampling of the wells at these four homes. Current information on other wells does not support the need for alternative water at this time. However, the information does support the need for further sampling.
Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and the Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that the development of this vital resource occurs safely and responsibly. At the direction of Congress, and separate from this limited sampling, EPA has begun a national study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.
For additional information regarding this site please visit the website at: //www.epaosc.org/dimock_residential_groundwater (2)
(1) Wilkes-Barre The Citizens’ Voice (Jan 20, 2012) – EPA will test Dimock water supplies, deliver to four homes
(2) Environmental Protection Agency (Jan 19, 2012) – EPA to Begin Sampling Water at Some Residences in Dimock, Pa.