Dimock Pennsylvania

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December 15th,2010

Dimock, Pennsylvania Residents to Share $4.1 Million, Receive Gas Mitigation Systems Under DEP-Negotiated Settlement with Cabot Oil and Gas

Additional $500,000 to Reimburse DEP for Investigative Costs; DEP to Drop Montrose Water Line Plan Given Uncertain Prospects

HARRISBURG, Pa.Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Residents of Dimock TownshipSusquehanna County, who have had their drinking water supplies contaminated by natural gas will each receive a share of $4.1 million that Cabot Oil and Gas Co. will pay under a settlement negotiated by the Department of Environmental Protection and the company.

The settlement, which will enable the affected families to address their individual circumstances as they see fit, also binds Cabotto offer and pay to install whole-house gas mitigation devices in each of the 19 affected homes.

Cabot also will pay DEP $500,000 to offset the state's expense of investigating the stray gas migration cases that have plaguedDimock residents for nearly two years.

"The 19 families in Dimock who have been living under very difficult conditions for far too long will receive a financial settlement that will allow them to address their own circumstances in their own way," said DEP Secretary John Hanger, who explained that the amount paid to each family will equal two-times the value of their home, with a minimum payment of $50,000.

"In addition to the significant monetary component of this settlement, there is a requirement that Cabot continue to work with us to ensure that none of their wells allow gas to migrate," Hanger noted.

DEP began investigating reports of stray gas in Dimock water wells in January 2009. A consent order and agreement signed inNovember 2009 required Cabot to install whole-house treatment systems in 14 homes, but residents found that action to be unsatisfactory.

The agreement was modified in April 2010 and DEP ordered Cabot to cap three wells believed to be the source of the migrating gas. DEP also suspended its review of Cabot's pending permit applications for new drilling activities statewide and prohibited the company from drilling any new wells in a nine-square-mile area around Dimock.

In September, DEP announced that Pennsylvania American Water Co. would construct a 5.5-mile water main from its Lake Montrose water treatment plant to supply the affected Dimock residents with a reliable source of quality drinking water. In November, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST, approved an $11.8 million grant and loan package for the project, with the commonwealth intending to recover the cost of the project from Cabot.

Given the opposition to the planned water line and the uncertain future the project faces, Hanger said the department would abandon its pursuit of the project.

"Our primary goal at the department has always been to ensure that the wells Cabot drilled in Dimock were safe and that they were not contaminating local private water supplies," said Hanger. "We've made great progress in doing that. Since we initiated our enforcement actions, gas levels in a majority of the contaminated water wells have gone down significantly. This agreement lays the foundation for families to finally put an end to this ordeal."

Media contactMichael Smith, 717-787-1323

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

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December 10,2010

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2010/09/13/n_fracking_pa.cnnmoney/       CNN report on Dimmock...   One correction to this news story (and several other comments)....In this news story they say "Mostly Fresh Water mixed with some chemicals"  well...When you mix 20,000 gallons of Chemicals into 4.5 million gallons of fresh water, Yes..the fact is that there is mostly Fresh Water mixed with some chemicals.....BUT....After you mix them, you have 4.5 million gallons of toxic water! The fracking fluid is so toxic that it can not be made drinkable by standard water treatment systems....


The Reason why the Dimock residents are going to sue and will require a water pipeline to their town is that the contaminated water Can Not be Purified...Putting water purification systems into the individual homes was the first option.. but the systems did not work.  These are not carbon filter systems that eliminate standard debris in the water.  These are Water Treatment Systems that will need to remove industrial chemicals from the water... It is like treating water from a Superfund site..  It is not financially viable and the Point of Use Home Treatment Systems are not a functional option at this time.....

THAT is why there is a 12 mile / 12+ million dollar water pipeline being built to Dimock, PA  No other reason...  

The reason why the EPA is building the pipeline is that the Gas company denies responsibility (Just like the cigarette companies did for 20+ years, avoiding responsibility for Lung Cancer and other smoking related health problems.). The EPA is preparing to sue to get their money back, but that will require time, taxpayer money and they will eventually need to win the lawsuit AND have the jury award a financial settlement..  The settlement will probably be marketed as "The biggest environmental settlement of all time... blah,blah blah"...and the water will remain in the ground.. contaminated.. and the plants and animals in the area will mutate and/or die...

If the water could be treated, they would be treating it..  Dimock is a small town example, but the problem could be magnified and the solution would have to be the same.

If, in the future, a large section of the Pennsylvania water supply is contaminated for any reason (Accidents, Earthquake or Reckless and Criminal Negligence)....there is no plan to rectify the problem.

The only answer is to get water from someplace else that has not yet been contaminated or to move.

If you own a Private Water company, this is of course a great business model.  Millions of Plants, Animals and People that must buy your product to live , wash and eat.

It is great for the government because you can be sure that a tax will be applied eventually.  Logic dictates that people will actually pay the tax because #1) the local water cannot be used because it is contaminated.   #2) you must have water to live...

In a generation or two, the people will not even remember that the water was originally clean and free...  This is material that could be used in a futuristic Science fiction novel...but this is not fiction...or in the future.  It is a plausible possibility...and it needs to be prevented.  You need to help prevent it.

The only Rational answer is Prevention... and this is the period in our collective history to act...

After the water is contaminated, if you have the money, you may as well move, but again, logic dictates that at some point...there will be no place clean to go.  

If you have children, or care about future generations or if you care about the non-human life on this planet, you should do something today to protect them.  It is a nobel cause.

November 18,2010


The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority has approved the construction of public water lines several miles into a rural community in Dimock Pa. after it was determined that natural gas has ruined the wells of a number of private homes.

Environmental advocates and the home owners believe nearby natural gas drilling in the area was responsible for contaminating the well water. Pro-drilling forces have consistently said no conclusive evidence exists as to the cause of gas migration into the wells.     WHYY's Senior Health and Science Reporter Kerry Grens is chasing this story. Today she spoke to Dr. Paul Marchetti of Pennvest for some inside details. Catch her report on All Things Considered this afternoon.

October 1, 2010    http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/pa.-environmental-agency-and-gas-drilling-company-butt-heads-over-dimocks-   EPA Lawsuit

Drilling Fact of the Day

Last week the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that the state (meaning the taxpayers of Pennsylvania) would pay $12 million to install 12.5 miles of pipe from the public water system in Montrose to Dimock, to replace the private water wells destroyed by Cabot Oil and Gas. This announcement came after DEP had spent almost two years trying to get Cabot to do the right thing -- and the legally required thing -- to replace the contaminated water.

DEP will now have to sue Cabot for reimbursement. But meanwhile, the taxpayers are on the hook.

That same day, the Marcellus Shale Coalition adopted its "Commitment to the Community Guiding Principles," which, among other points, says "We are committed to being responsible members of the communities in which we work," and "We implement state-of-the-art environmental protection across our operations." On Sunday, former governor Tom Ridge had an OpEd in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," reaffirming the principles. And today, the Coalition released a YouTube video that is a rapturous paean to all the wonderful things that natural gas drilling can bring.

But the people of Dimock could do with a lot fewer public relations stunts and a lot more action and substance. And the people of Pennsylvania really don’t want to be left holding the bag for companies like Cabot that refuse to follow our rules. Without a severance tax, we could be paying for environmental problems for decades.

Eighty percent of Pennsylvanians want a strong severance tax passed this year. Send an e-mail right now to your state senator with one simple message: Don’t get bought off by drillers – make them pay their fair share, through a substantial severance tax.

If this email was forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive the Drilling Fact of Day on PennFuture's website.    These Daily Facts are VERY informative...A Great way to stay involved.

  Toxic Chemicals have been documented in the Water Supply of Dimock Pa (N.W. of Scranton, Pa)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3MCqkYPr4I                                                                                        Victoria Switzer on Fracking in Dimock Pa (10/22/2010)

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/02/fracking/index.html?hpt=C1                                                                CNN Video about Dimock Pa.   (29Sept2010)

How many water supplies have been impacted by gas drilling? Pa. doesn't keep count

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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2010:11:11 12:23:06

Michael J. Mullen / Staff Photographer F. R. Place of Wyalusing stands by tanks used to supply water for the famly farm, where the well water has been contaminated since Marcellus Shale gas drilling began.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2010:05:17 11:51:05 Complete coverage of natural gas drilling in Northeast Pennsylvania including recently updated searchable database of natural gas drilling leases for Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties 

Strengthened oil and gas regulations to be considered by a state review board this week will help answer an increasingly urgent question in the era of Marcellus Shale exploration: how many water supplies have been impacted by drilling activities?

Right now, no one is keeping a complete count.

The Oil and Gas Act does not require drillers to notify state regulators when landowners alert them that drinking water has been harmed by the companies' operations.

Under current law, the Department of Environmental Protection must look into cases of potential drinking water pollution only when it is asked to investigate a problem by a landowner.

The department also does not track how often gas drillers voluntarily replace drinking water supplies, either temporarily or permanently.

"Often, homeowners and drillers work out agreements without needing the department's assistance," DEP spokesman Tom Rathbun said. "We get involved when we are notified of a problem, but we are not made aware of every case."

A revised Oil and Gas Act will change that. When the new regulations go into effect, likely in January if they pass all reviews, drillers will have to notify the department within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

An earlier draft of the revisions, which gave drillers 10 days to notify the department of a complaint, was changed after commentators on the regulations argued that was not quick enough.

The change from no notification to nearly instantaneous notification signals an increasing awareness of how often drinking water complaints go uncounted at a time when everyone from farmers to the federal government is looking for more complete information on the short- and long-term impacts of gas drilling on water resources.

Without the mandatory disclosure, critics say, voluntary arrangements can take advantage of the fact that there are disincentives for landowners to ask DEP to intervene: People may feel intimidated about pushing their complaints or fear causing any disruption to the gas companies that pay them royalties.

On some occasions, gas companies, even when working side-by-side with regulators to address water complaints, have made clear efforts to keep voluntary water replacement arrangements out of the public eye.

How many problems?

There is a clear gap between the relatively small number of state orders for drillers to provide homes with replacement water and the visible proliferation of water tanks (called buffaloes), well vents, new wells, treatment systems and bottled water being delivered or installed in gas-drilling regions.

After a records search in June 2009, DEP reported there had been fewer than 80 cases of groundwater contamination caused by oil and gas drilling in the state in more than 15 years, as measured by the number of official orders the agency sent to drillers to permanently restore or replace damaged water supplies.

With 32,000 oil and gas wells drilled within that time span, that amounts to a .25 percent incident rate - a track record the industry frequently touts.

But unofficial counts put the number of disturbed water supplies much higher.

Daniel Farnham, an environmental engineer who has tested more than 2,000 water wells in Northeast and Northcentral Pennsylvania where Marcellus Shale drilling is under way, estimates as many as 50 homes in Bradford County alone are currently getting replacement water supplies provided by gas companies.

In Susquehanna County, Dimock Twp. offers a vivid example of the gap between the officially determined size of the problem and the true number of drinking water supplies that have been replaced.

DEP has ordered Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. to replace 18 water supplies - connected to 19 homes - that were tainted with methane the agency traced to faulty Cabot Marcellus Shale gas wells, a claim the company refutes.

But according to Cabot documentation provided to the department as part of the order, at least 36 Dimock residences have at some point had water supplies replaced or remediated by Cabot at least temporarily.

At the time Cabot provided DEP with its water replacement list, in June, the company had drilled 89 natural gas wells in and around Dimock - meaning Cabot remedied or replaced a water supply, on average, for more than one in every three gas wells it drilled.

Cabot spokesman George Stark said the numbers reflect Cabot's policy of investigating all water supply complaints and "when we see the immediate need" providing replacement water during an investigation. Some complaints may turn out to be unfounded, unrelated to gas drilling, or temporary disruptions that clear up on their own, he said.

Cabot, the most active driller in Susquehanna County, has removed nine homes from the list of 36 receiving water, Mr. Stark said. The company drilled one replacement water well and reconditioned three others. Five homes accepted filtration systems that are in the process of being installed.

Chesapeake Energy, the most active driller in Bradford County, did not answer a request to disclose the number of water supplies it has replaced or remediated.

"Waiting to blow me up"

Most drillers and many landowners say voluntary arrangements for solving residential water problems are amicable, even generous.

Gary Lopez, a Dimock resident, wrote grateful letters to area newspapers thanking Cabot "for solving my water problems" by first delivering replacement water then drilling a new well after his old well "tested high for methane and barium."

In the worst cases, though, homeowners have found gas company representatives bullying even as they appear to be helping to fix the problem.

Sherry Vargson noticed her faucets began to sputter and blow what seemed like air after Chesapeake Energy performed what workers told her was a maintenance procedure on the gas wells yards from her Granville Summit home in June.

A company contractor tested the head space in her water well and found elevated levels of methane. DEP tests a month later found the flammable gas present in her water supply at 56.3 mg/L - twice the level at which water can no longer hold the gas and releases it into the atmosphere or enclosed spaces, creating a risk of explosion.

Because pre-drilling water tests "did not find the presence of the methane gas," DEP found that the tests indicated that gas well drilling caused the change in the water supply.

Chesapeake has provided the Vargsons with bottled water since the day in June when the company detected the gas, but despite DEP recommendations that the company install a vent stack on the well to help keep the gas from concentrating, the well is still not vented.

Instead, Chesapeake presented Mrs. Vargson with an agreement in July which required the family to release the company from all claims and liabilities related to the water up until that date in exchange for installing a vent "as a precautionary measure."

The agreement, which the Vargsons refused to sign in its original form, also included a non-disclosure clause meant to bar the family from discussing the agreement, its terms or Chesapeake's role in providing a vent.

In a statement, Chesapeake's senior director for corporate development, Brian Grove, said the company does not believe its activities affected the Vargson water well, which he said was "equipped with a venting cap predating our operations" because of "pre-existing methane." The company's pre- and post-drilling water tests show the water "virtually unchanged," he said - a position at odds with DEP findings reported Sept. 2.

Whenever a question is raised about any water supply, Mr. Grove said, the company "routinely provides a temporary replacement source of water as a courtesy and notifies the DEP immediately while we begin to investigate" - a process that "most often" finds that the problem is not related to drilling activity, he added.

The purpose of the legal agreements is to grant the company permission "to access the property and provide needed equipment or services" in cases where a lot of activity will be required in or near a home.

"Confidentiality clauses are common in these and many other types of agreements," he said.

Mrs. Vargson, who now sleeps with three windows open, is frustrated that the DEP has not enforced its finding linking gas drilling to her water problems, which she is not afraid to discuss.

Last week, she held a match to the sputtering water running from her kitchen faucet and a flame ran up the stream to the spout.

"All of that is aerating in here," she said, "pocketing in the house, waiting to blow me up."

About 20 miles across Bradford County, near Spring Lake, two Chesapeake-provided water buffaloes sit in the yard behind the more than 100-year-old farmhouse owned by Jacqueline Place.

On April 1, nearly two weeks after the water to Ms. Place's home turned cloudy then dark brown and her sister's cows refused to drink it, a DEP inspector and Chesapeake contractors came to test the water. Chesapeake disconnected the well, filled the water buffaloes and plumbed them into the home - a project that took hours.

At around 10 p.m., the last Chesapeake contractor handed Ms. Place a document and told her he would not flip the switch on the system he had just installed unless she signed it. According to her sister, Roslyn Bohlander, the contractor told Ms. Place the document was "nothing" important and, when pressed, told her it was a nondisclosure agreement.

Ms. Place would not acknowledge the document or release it to The Times-Tribune.

"It was such a crisis point," Mrs. Bohlander said. In the previous days, Ms. Place and her son had not used the water to shower, cook or clean dishes or clothes. They took sponge baths, Mrs. Bohlander said, and the cows, "they were just drinking enough to live."

DEP and private tests have since shown elevated levels of methane and metals in the water.

"They did all they had done to make it not be a bad situation," she said, "but then they said you can't have this water."

Mr. Grove said Chesapeake does not believe its operations have affected the water supply and "have not caused any reduction of quality of the water in the well.

"Repeated analyses have not detected any constituents related to natural gas drilling and production," he said.

The company continues to provide replacement water to the Places and Bohlanders, like the Vargsons "as a courtesy," he said, "while we work with the DEP and residents to bring closure to these matters."

Chesapeake has told the family on three occasions, each with between 24 and 48 hours notice, that it planned to take away the buffaloes and stop the water deliveries. DEP officials have told the family they cannot stop Chesapeake from taking the water because they did not order the company to provide the water in the first place, Ms. Place said.

Mrs. Bohlander said the price of a buffalo and frequent water deliveries for the cows and the home is "unaffordable."

"We no longer have a plan B," she said.

Contact the writer: llegere@timesshamrock.com'60 Minutes' in Dimock

Dimock residents will be featured on tonight's edition of "60 minutes" in a segment called "Shaleionaires" which will address both the economic benefits and environmental concerns about shale gas drilling. The show airs on CBS at 7 p.m

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/how-many-water-supplies-have-been-impacted-by-gas-drilling-pa-doesn-t-keep-count-1.1063683#ixzz18tzDBuQ8

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