Years After Evidence of Fracking Contamination, EPA to Supply Drinking Water to Homes in Pa. Town
by Abrahm Lustgarten ProPublica, Jan. 20, 2012, 2:58 p.m.
First, the eartharound the rural town of Dimock, Pa., was cracked open as gas drillers usedfracking  to tap the vastenergy supplies of the Marcellus Shale.
Then, in April 2009, residents there lost theiraccess to fresh drinking water .Wells turned fetid. Some blew up. Tap water caught fire.
Now, nearlythree years later 2014 and after a string of lawsuits and stateinvestigations has ushered Dimock to the forefront of the environmental debateover drilling but failed to resolve the water problem 2014 the EnvironmentalProtection Agency is stepping in to supply drinking water itself.
On Friday, theagency announced it would bring tanks of drinking water to four homes,including that of Julie Sautner, whom ProPublica first interviewed  about her water problems in 2009.
201CDatareviewed by EPA indicates that residents2019 well water contains levels ofcontaminants that pose a health concern,201D the agency said in a statement . Testsshowed dangerous levels of arsenic , acarcinogen, as well as glycols and barium in at least four wells, and the EPAis apparently concerned that the contamination may bemore widespread.
According to the statement, theEPA plans to test the water supplies in 60 additional homes for hazardoussubstances.
In 2009,Pennsylvania officials charged Cabot Oil & Gas , the company that drilled the wells inDimock, with several violations it said had contributed to methane gas leakingout of the gas wells and into drinking water. For a time, Cabot supplieddrinking water to a number of homes in the area but then stopped.
The EPA haswaded into the Dimock issues slowly over the past few months, provoking adefensive stance from the state2019s lead environmental regulator, who earlierthis month called the EPA2019s understanding of the Dimock situation 201Crudimentary .201D
But the statehas not undertaken the scope of water analysis the EPA now plans to do, anduntil the EPA stepped in Friday, Dimock residents had found little resolution.
Environmentalgroups are applauding the EPA2019s move. "This finding confirms what Dimockresidents have said for months, that the Pennsylvania Department ofEnvironmental Protection should have never allowed Cabot to end deliveries ofclean water," said Environmental Working Group senior counsel DustyHorwitt.
But they also say the time has come for the EPA to address watercontamination concerns in other communities across the country where residentssay drilling has harmed their water.
In December, the EPA concluded that fracking  was likelyto blame for a similar rash of groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyo. Theagency is conducting a multiyear national study of fracking2019s effects on watersupplies.
We have previously reported about waterand drilling concerns  in parts of western Wyoming, as well as centraland southern Colorado, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere.