Showing concern for the dangerous impact of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) on ground water reserves, the EPA has decided to provide clean drinking water to four families in Dimock, Pennsylvania who say their water supply has been contaminated by a hydraulic fracturing well owned by Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation. The EPA will also test the water supply of 60 homes in the Dimock area for harmful chemicals. This investigation comes on the tails of the announcement that the EPA found high levels of fracking chemicals in drinking water wells in Wyoming near hydraulic fracturing sites. In both cases the gas companies involved vehemently deny the charges but it seems the EPA, led by administrator Lisa Jackson, will be forging ahead hoping to find some truth by testing the water themselves.
While Cabot claims they have no data to indicate that their wells are poisoning drinking water, many residents involved say their water became contaminated three years ago and a number of them sued Cabot for damages — the lawsuit is still in progress. “EPA is working diligently to understand the situation in Dimock and address residents’ concerns,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement to the press. “Conducting our own sampling will help us fill information gaps.” The four homes being provided with fresh water have already supplied the EPA with water samples which when tested showed levels of chemicals that posed health concerns.
George Stark, a Cabot spokesperson, told Bloomberg that the EPA is conducting an “unwarranted investigation” and that they look “forward to helping educate the U.S. EPA on the ground water and geological features of Susquehanna County.” Fracking is a process in which gas companies drill deep into shale rock below the Earth’s surface and blast in at high pressure huge amounts of toxic chemically laced water in order to break the rocks apart and free the precious natural gas. Opponents of the practice say that those chemicals then seep into ground water and poison the environment and cause health issues with people that live nearby.
Yesterday, half a world away, Bulgaria decided in a 166-6 vote to ban any hydraulic fracturing within the country’s borders due to environmental and health concerns – France was the first European country to make the same ban. States across the U.S. are considering moratoriums — New Jersey and New York already have them in place — and Josh Fox, director of the 2010 documentary Gasland about the dangers of fracking is seeing his concerns raised to a national scale. Estimates on Pennsylvania economic gains from gas wells across the state are estimated at $20 billion USD. Environmentalist against fracking state these huge financial gains as great incentives for gas companies and those persons concerned about tax revenue to cover up the sometimes glaring impacts of the practice. Stay tuned to Inhabitat as the EPA tests Dimrock water wells, we’re guessing the results will be similar to the wells just tested in Wyoming.