The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating whether or not drilling activity by Range Resources at their Yeager Marcellus Shale site in Washington County, PA is causing air pollution and groundwater contamination. Range operates a wastewater pond and a drill cuttings pit at the site.
Several families living close to the site filed a personal injury lawsuit last month against Range.
The Atlanta-based Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said this week it has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since March 2011 to assess health problems reported by residents living in a valley below Range’s wastewater pond and a drill cuttings pit at the Amwell Township site.
Three of those families filed a personal injury lawsuit in Washington County Common Pleas Court last month alleging that their health was damaged and their risk of cancer increased due to exposure to toxic leaks, spills and air pollutants from Range’s operations. Range has denied the charges.
Three plaintiffs, Stacey Haney and her children, moved out of their home on McAdams Road, about 1,500 feet from the Yeager impoundment. The other plaintiffs are Beth, John and Ashley Voyles, and Loren Kiskadden and his mother, Grace Kiskadden, who live in separate homes near the impoundment.*
The Yeager well is one of three Pennsylvania sites (and one of seven nationally) included in the EPA’s report on the effects of hydraulic fracturing that it will deliver to Congress in 2014.
Range responded that they believe new tests will prove their drilling activities are not the cause of nearby air and water contamination:
Matt Pitzarella, a Range spokesman, issued a statement saying the federal and state agencies are properly responding to citizen concerns, but the company believes any new tests will confirm previous test results that show no health impacts associated with Range activities.
"Hopefully these fact-based reports will provide the residents with greater peace of mind," Mr. Pitzarella wrote. "There may very well be some red flags with air or water, which is not uncommon in Western Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with responsible gas development."*
*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jun 11, 2012) – Federal agencies probe Range Resources’ Yeager Marcellus Shale gas drilling site