EPA finds no health concern in first Dimock, Pa., water well samples

Initial results from samples of the first 11 of 60 water wells in Dimock, Pa., did not show contamination levels that could present a health concern, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3 office in Philadelphia said on Mar. 15. Samples from 6 of the 11 wells showed the presence of methane, sodium, chromium, or bacteria, but in concentrations within the range for safe drinking water, it said.

Houston independent Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., which operates several natural gas wells in the area, said in a statement that it was pleased EPA’s data confirmed earlier findings that Dimock well water meets all regulatory standards.

“As one of the first developers in the Marcellus shale to recognize the importance of this exceptional resource for our nation's future, Cabot has, and will continue, to work closely with the Dimock community, state, and local regulators on concerns in the area,” Cabot said.

EPA said it announced on Jan. 19 that it would perform tests on the 60 homes’ water wells after receiving requests from residents and reviewing data it already had. Of the 11 homes that were initially tested, three are receiving water from an alternate supply provided by EPA, it indicated. The agency will continue supply that water as it takes more samples to determine that the wells’ water quality remains consistent and acceptable over time, the federal agency said.

Last year, Cabot said results from more than 1,700 water wells sampled and tested before proposed gas drilling in Susquehanna County, Pa., show methane to be ubiquitous in shallow groundwater, with a clear correlation of methane concentrations with surface topography (OGJ, Dec. 5, 2011, p. 54).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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