Third Set of EPA Water Tests in Dimock, PA Come Back Clean

The latest (and third) round of water testing done by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of water wells around Dimock, PA shows (surprise!) no chemical contamination from hydraulic fracturing. All of the 16 water wells show no fracking fluids. One of the wells shows a high level of arsenic, a chemical not used by Cabot Oil & Gas during hydraulic fracturing. Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical.

Here’s the statement by the EPA upon releasing the latest round of testing last Friday:

EPA has completed and shared with residents and Pennsylvania state officials the third set of sampling at 16 private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pennsylvania. This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action. At one well, EPA found elevated levels of arsenic and offered alternate water but the resident declined. EPA remains committed to providing Dimock residents with the best available data and information on the quality of drinking water as expeditiously as possible.(1)

And here’s the statement by Cabot Oil & Gas after this latest round of tests were released:

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency released the third set of water samples compiled at private drinking water wells in Dimock, PA. The data released today confirms the two earlier EPA findings that levels of contaminants found do not possess a threat to human health and the environment. Again, these findings are consistent with literally thousands of pages of water quality data accumulated by state and local authorities and by Cabot Oil and Gas. As with the other findings, EPA did not indicate that those contaminants that were detected bore any relationship to oil and gas development in the Dimock area. Cabot continues to look forward to working closely with federal, state and local officials in using the best and most accurate science to address public concerns.(1)

Of course the EPA’s findings don’t sit well with anti-drilling groups. The EPA is godlike for those who oppose drilling, and when the EPA’s work confirms what we knew all along—that hydraulic fracturing does not contaminate well water—the anti-drillers literally “turn on their own.” Their response to the EPA? Deny the science and deny the truth:

Water Defense, an environmental group, said Friday that the EPA’s statements about its Dimock water tests are "spin, not science."

"EPA’s own tests have already vindicated the long-standing allegations of water contamination," Water Defense Executive Director Claire Sandberg said. "The affected families want the truth, not more smoke and mirrors: why is Region 3 implying that water full of toxic chemicals and methane poses no health threat?"(2)

You just have to shake your head. The “EPA’s own tests” have shown the opposite: there is NO chemical contamination. And the EPA is not out to prove what the PA state DEP has already said, that 19 wells had high levels of methane, which does not pose a health risk, but does pose an explosion risk, which is why the DEP ordered Cabot to install methane filtration systems on those wells. Eleven of the 19 families decided to refuse the filtration systems and a payment of twice the value of their homes and instead sue Cabot hoping for a big payday. Oops. Guess that isn’t working out too well now.

(1) Energy in Depth – Northeast Marcellus Initiative (Apr 20, 2012) – More EPA Water Tests Show Water to be Safe

(2) Wilkes-Barre The Citizens’ Voice (Apr 21, 2012) – EPA releases third set of Dimock water tests

  • really …does anybody read this crap?

  • obviously you did, you posted a comment

  • can you quote EPA directly saying that “no fracking fluids or fracking has contaminated Dimock water”– ?  I don’t see a direct quote;  I see someone writing their interpretation of it. 

  • Anonymous

    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

  • Maybe you should check out this website before you say that shale drilling activity has no negative affect on ground water and human health:  //

    And by the way, unless you have a Ph.D after your name and are considered an expert in the field of risk assessment of natural gas extraction, then please be careful what you say. 

  • Anonymous

    But that’s the beauty of being pro-drilling… You don’t need facts or reason to support your position, only blind faith and anger!

  • Anonymous

    Julie, why is it crap? Maybe because it harms your beliefs? DEP & EPA say there is no contamination, who else should weigh in to make you change your perception of that reality?

  • Anonymous

    Watch those adjectives, such as “immediate,” as it is used in this response from the EPA: “data does not indicate that the well water presents an immediate health threat to users.” Well when will it present a health threat?  In five years?  Ten years?  That answer doesn’t indicate it won’t present a health threat just that it won’t immediately do so.  And how about: “This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action.  Were the figures low, medium, or slightly above what they consider to be normal with current knowledge?  A little high but not high enough to take further action?  Years ago asbestos was acceptable and it was put into everything.  Now crews wear protective clothing and masks as they rid buildings that contain it.  Smokers lit up for decades before it was established that smoking wasn’t any good for your health.  The list goes on and on and eventually unconventional gas drilling will make the list.  Give it time.

  • Anonymous

    Spiff (or should I say Spliff) You are definitely “out there” in space. . .You post on here as if to say the O&G industry is done by some guys with some well drilling equipment who punch holes in the ground hoping for the best. Do you have any idea of the SCIENCE it takes in geology and engineering to find and extract NG and Oil. The SCIENTISTS who undertake this task using technology so advanced that it is ever evolving are some of the brightest minds in the world. You sit there and think the “solution is to put up a wind turbine and some solar panels and everything will be just fine. You belive in the people whose individual homes carbon footprint is that of a small town, and they tell you how YOU should be conserving energy, and that one of the cleanest nations in the world is causing global warming.
    My point is, “the beauty” in being pro drilling is our “side” is backed by people who are revered to be the smartest people in the world. They don’t make self promoting movies to promote themselves or their agenda for the benefit of getting a Pulitzer (which now hold the same weight as a bad joke).
    You see you got it all mixed up the “faith and anger” that is your anti drilling side. Just refute this one fact for me. 1 Million wells have been fracked in our nation thus far. If the practice of fracking is as bad as you say it is, then why arent there MILLIONS of people in hospitals who are getting sick, cancer, growing third limbs etc. etc. If one cow on this planet contracts mad cow disease we know about it in 2 days (Do you have any idea how many cows are out there). Why then haven’t we heard of the thousands of people getting sick (except for the Josh Fox Gasland paid “actors”) .  Put the bong down and come over to the adult table now.

  • Anonymous

    Well being a scientist and geologist who works in the industry of which you speak, I take your complement to heart.

    Not sure where “solution is to put up a wind turbine and some solar panels and everything will be just fine” comes from… you have a source for that?

    Or for the US being “one of the cleanest nations in the world”?

    Or where someone claimed “MILLIONS of people” should be getting sick from fracking?

    Or if “Josh Fox Gasland paid ‘actors'” to appear in the film?

    I could continue, but I’m sure you’ll pay this little mind.

  • Anonymous

    Really? you’re a geologist? Please enlighten us as to your credentials. Who in the industry do you work for?

    Not sure where “solution is to put up a wind turbine and some solar panels and everything will be just fine” comes from… you have a source for that?A: Read past comments of anti- fracking folks like yourself anywhere on any blog. It’s your folks’ rally cry “Wind and Solar” renewables will change the world. Just like the Hopey Changey thing – That ain’t working out to well.

    Or for the US being “one of the cleanest nations in the world”? We are one of the cleanest energy nations in the world. Do you have something to dispute the fact? Please dont bring up a country with a sub 300,000,000 population to compare us to. Keep it apples to apples. I will throw this one back on you, since you are a scientist in the field. This should be a pop fly for you.
    Or where someone claimed “MILLIONS of people” should be getting sick from fracking? Ahh yes, use the qoute out of context. Let me draw you a map. . . I compared the fact that with over a million wells fracked if it were a health risk that the anti establishment claims it to be, there would be millions of people and animals getting sick from the process. That’s is not the case unless you have some insider information,given the fact you are in the industry, that we outsiders are unaware of.

    Or if “Josh Fox Gasland paid ‘actors'” to appear in the film? That was tongue in cheek (hence the qoutations) that the claimants on Carter Road in Dimok PA are “actors” looking for a bigger pay out. But I don’t mind explaining. . . I hope I’m not going to fast for you.
    I could continue, but I’m sure you’ll pay this little mind. You only wish I would, but I do enjoy unleashing a good cyber back hand from time to time. Now go put some frozen peas on that cheek Spiff.

  • Anonymous

    You go ahead and keep flexing your muscles while the rest of us engage in conscious, rational thought. It’s adorable how you may try, but it’s time for those who understand the intricacies of reality, rather than religious blind faith, to solve real problems. I do wish you well in your “cyber back hand[ing]”, maybe one day you’ll move ahead of every other 13-year old ranting on the internet.

  • Anonymous

     I have to jump in this one, I read all the posts and comments on the Dimock,Pa water debacle and when the EPA and the DEP came back with the same results, all the Anti’s should have been open and accept the truth.Yet, because the testing didn’t favor their visions of spillage and contamination to further fuel the dying fire, Now the EPA is tainted. Blueflames is correct in his analogies. Your last blog proves it. I too await your scientific findings in the Dimock case. The only finding that is the truth is that there was methane gas in those wells prior to drilling and those few residents tried to strong arm a company for more MONEY. It didn’t work, there was a huge waste of man hours testing , investigating and finally putting the hoopla to sleep. All those people received a large amount of money for leases and royalty payments. The truth is that GREED has taken over spaceman.I’m pro drilling, I’m for extreme safety and oversight. What the Anti’s are doing is germ warfare,making up false claims to achieve an end result.The truth of safe drilling practices are coming out over and over and the Anti’s screams of contamination  are getting weaker and weaker.So are your responses to direct questions. Your no different from them, just trying to say your an expert doesnt cut it.Roll out some facts. Then we’ll investigate and get to the truth, just like Dimock. Your opinion must then change eventually, as those facts get unveiled and as a scientist you must bow to fact,not opinion