Comes After EPA Closed Investigation Into Contaminated Water, Refused to Meet with Affected Residents
Philadelphia, PA – As President Obama heads to Philadelphia to speak at a Tom Wolf campaign event, local and national advocates called for the President’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure Pennsylvanians have safe drinking water and to stop ignoring meeting requests from residents with contaminated water from fracking.
“It’s shameful that Administrator McCarthy would refuse to meet with Pennsylvania residents whose drinking water has been contaminated by fracking, while repeatedly meeting with oil and gas companies,” said Josh Fox, Oscar-Nominated and Emmy-Winning filmmaker of Gasland and Gasland II and creator of ‘The Solutions Grassroots Tour.’ “I’ve spent time in Dimock, and there is no doubt that this water is not safe for consumption. Instead, the EPA has gone against the recommendation of its regional office, closed the investigation into the water contamination and allowed the company to continue fracking in the area.
“How much longer is President Obama going to allow big oil and gas companies to contaminate Pennsylvania families’ water before his administration will actually meet with its constituents? We’ve repeatedly asked the President to sit down with these families and the scientists who proved their cases. We’ve been denied. However, it’s never too late to reverse a wrong course of action, especially one with national implications.”
Americans Against Fracking has requested that EPA Administrator McCarthy meet with residents impacted by fracking for over a year now. During that same period, the EPA administrator has met with the CEO of BP twice; the head of the two major gas industry trade associations, the American National Gas Association (ANGA) and the American Gas Association (AGA); the head of the American Chemistry Council, which uses the natural gas liquids; and the CEOs of two major electricity utilities that depend on fossil fuels—Exelon and NRG. At an event at the EPA’s offices in Washington DC on October 10 this year, Tom Reynolds, the Associate Administrator of the Office of Public Affairs at EPA committed to respond to a meeting request with the EPA administrator and impacted residents by October 17. There has still been no such response.
Timeline of Water Contamination in Dimock, PA, and the EPA’s Response
- Fall 2008 – A drilling rig of a Cabot Oil and Gas subsidiary hits a “methane pocket” but kept drilling despite leaking gas. Families near the well experience cramps, rashes and headaches. At least one family is told to evacuate its home to avoid dangerous levels of methane.
- January 1, 2009 – A drinking water well explodes, and state officials determine the cause—a buildup of methane.
- February 27, 2009 – The state Department of Environmental Protection issues Cabot a Notice of Violation for the unpermitted discharge of natural gas into state waters and failure to prevent gas from entering groundwater. Cabot has to provide water to four residences.
- April 15, 2010 – DEP issues an enforcement order to Cabot to stop fracking in part of Dimock and to plug three wells believed to be linked to contaminated water in 14 homes there. Cabot is required to pay a $240,000 fine, as well as $30,000 per month until its prior obligations are met.
- December 15, 2010 – In a settlement agreement, DEP acknowledges that drinking water in 19 homes were contaminated from Cabot’s drilling.
- December 16, 2010 – The 19 families whose water was affected will share $4.1 million paid by Cabot. They also will have gas mitigation systems installed in their homes.
- October 19, 2011 – DEP tells Cabot to stop providing water to affected homes.
- December 28, 2011 – The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) releases results of its evaluation of water well data from 18 water wells in Dimock. They found elevated levels of coliform bacteria, methane, ethylene glycol, DEHP (an endocrine disruptor), aluminum, arsenic, lithium, manganese, sodium, and iron.
- January 19, 2012 – EPA begins testing water in Dimock homes.
- July 25, 2012 – EPA announces that with added Ciltration systems, water in Dimock is safe to drink, and that it doesn’t plan to conduct any more tests.
- August 22, 2012 – DEP allows Cabot to frack in the part of Dimock where it had drilled seven wells before it was ordered to stop fracking.
- July 27, 2013 – The Los Angeles Times uncovers an internal EPA document indicating that regional EPA staff had argued to continue their investigation after tests found a link between fracking and methane contamination in drinking water.
Contact: Laura Brandon, [email protected], 202-641-8477
Americans Against Fracking is composed of the following groups: www.americansagainstfracking.org/members/. For more information about Americans Against Fracking, visit www.AmericansAgainstFracking.org.