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EPA: Dimock, Pa., water well tests find low contaminants

Sampling of private water wells in Dimock, Pa., has been completed and no significant levels of contaminants requiring further action have been found, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3 office in Philadelphia announced.

“The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action,” Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said on July 25. “Throughout EPA's work in Dimock, the agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water.”

EPA visited the community in late 2011, surveyed residents, and received hundreds of pages of drinking water data it received from them, from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, and from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. which had natural gas wells nearby. It determined that sampling to assure that residents had access to safe drinking water after data for some homes showed elevated contaminant levels and several residents expressed concern, the agency said.

It said that overall during its sampling of 64 homes during January-June, EPA found hazardous substances—specifically arsenic, barium, or manganese—that occur naturally in five homes’ water wells that could present a health concern. EPA noted that in all cases, the residents now have or will have their own treatment systems to reduce concentrations of these substances to acceptable levels at the tap. It said it has provide the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling.

In a statement, Cabot said EPA’s findings are consistent with the water quality data it and state and local authorities previously submitted. “Cabot’s operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community,” it continued.

Separately, Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the organization was “very pleased that EPA has arrived upon these fact-based findings, and that we’re now able to close this chapter once and for all.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.


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