PA DEP Continues Investigating 2 Water Wells Near Dimock

Old news being reported as new news: The PA Department of Environmental Protection continues its investigation into a possible case of methane migration in two water wells just outside of Dimock Township. The investigation started in 2010 and is not part of the ongoing Dimock situation. The “new news” part of the story is that Cabot Oil & Gas added more cement in the casing of a nearby Greenwood 1 well (in March).

DEP officials are now monitoring to see if the additional cemented casing cuts down on methane in the two water wells. If it does, it will be obvious that Cabot’s Greenwood 1 well is the cause. If it does not reduce methane in the water wells, back to the drawing board and the investigation continues.

State environmental regulators are investigating a possible case of methane migrating into water supplies just north of the 9-square-mile box in Dimock Twp. where the state halted a gas driller’s operations because of methane contamination in 2010.

Regulators with the state Department of Environmental Protection emphasized that they have not determined the source of elevated methane discovered in two Susquehanna County water wells and whether it is caused by Marcellus Shale drilling or a natural occurrence of gas in the aquifer.

One focus of the investigation is Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s Greenwood 1 well, where the company recently squeezed additional cement between steel barriers that are meant to seal off gas and fluids from the aquifer.

The work in late March was an effort to stop the problem, DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said, even though inspectors have not pinpointed the well as the cause.

"The next step is to determine the effectiveness of the remediation work and to continue water well sampling," he said.

Regulators began investigating the elevated methane levels in August 2010 after a resident reported a water quality complaint to the state.

The gas wells being evaluated are less than 400 feet from the northern boundary of a section of Dimock where Cabot’s drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations have been on hold since April 2010 when state regulators blamed faulty Cabot wells for allowing shallow methane to channel into 18 private water wells. Cabot disputes the state’s findings in that case.*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Apr 28, 2012) – State investigating possible stray gas case near area of past problems in Dimock