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EPA will send fresh water to Dimock, Pa., residents with contaminated wells

January 20th, 2012

From Green Right Now Reports

Dimock, Pa., residents whose wells have been contaminated with methane gas got word Thursday that the EPA will send water to four of the 11 affected families.

Environmental and anti-fracking groups supplied Dimock residents with water in Dec. 2011, after Cabot Gas and Oil had stopped deliveries. (Photo: HudsonRiverkeeper.)

The EPA made the decision after tests showed that the residents’ well water is undrinkable. The agency is expected to supply fresh drinking and potable water to the remaining families if tests show their well water also cannot be safely used.

The Dimock residents say their well water became undrinkable after Cabot Gas and Oil drilled for natural gas in their area, using underground “fracking” methods that shatter rock to release methane. Their plight has been highlighted in the movie Gasland, which documented cases of homesteads and farmland from Pennsylvania to Colorado that have been adversely affected by natural gas drilling.

Cabot Gas and Oil denies that drilling caused any water contamination, maintaining that the Dimock-area wells were blighted with methane before the company drilled in the region. Cabot had, however, supplied several families with water, under order by the state of Pennsylvania. The state recently lifted that requirement and Cabot stopped deliveries in November. Groups sympathetic to the Dimock families’ plight have supplied water since then.

After the withdrawal of water supplies, environmental groups called for the EPA to step in. Earlier this month, EPA Region 3 officials said that the agency would provide Dimock residents with safe water. The next day they withdrew the pledge. After a protest by residents, who were joined by other fracking opponents, outside a speech by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the EPA announced it would supply the water after new tests verified contamination of the wells.

“Supporters of fracking have been saying all along ‘let the science speak for itself’,” said Dimock resident, Craig Sautner. “Well it has now. The data is in. The PA DEP and Cabot Oil and Gas said there was nothing wrong with our water. If that’s the case then why is the EPA going to deliver water?”

“It’s time that gas companies were held accountable for their actions,” Sautner said. “This has been a horrible roller coaster ride and we’re glad that the EPA has stepped in to do the right thing.”

Fracking activist and actor Mark Ruffalo also praised the EPA for coming to the aid of the Dimock residents.

“It is with the greatest amount of gratitude that I would like to reach out to the EPA on behalf of Water Defense and the families of Dimock PA,” Ruffalo said. “Since November the families on Carter Road have been robbed of their clean drinking water by Pennsylvania’s state government in collusion with Cabot Oil and Gas. WaterDefense, with the help of NRDC, Sierra Club, River Keeper, Catskill Mountain Keeper, and many other beautiful, thoughtful people have have been delivering water since then. Today the EPA is taking to heart the promise they have made to step in when people have contaminated water.”

Claire Sandberg, Executive Director of Frack Action and Cofounder of Water Defense, called the victory for Dimock one that will be shared with “everyone across the United States whose lives and communities are threatened by the rapid expansion of shale gas drilling.”

“We hope that this move to supply water to the Dimock families signals a new willingness on the part of the EPA and the White House to hold drillers accountable and reign in this destructive industry,” Sandberg said. “We also hope that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will take heed that the tide is turning against extreme fossil fuels.”


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