Northeast PA town attracted national attention from drilling opponents
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — The town launched a thousand calls for shutting down Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency has determined that contaminated water wells in Dimock Township were not caused by drilling for natural gas.
Homeowners began complaining of methane in their water wells after Cabot Oil and Gas, a national firm that drills for natural gas and oil, started tapping the Marcellus shale formation beneath the town in 2009. Drilling opponents blamed the process, known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for causing the contamination.
“This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action,” the agency said in a statement.
In 2010, the state Department of Environmental Protection planned to build a 12-mile water line to serve about 20 affected houses at a cost of nearly $12 million, but instead reached a $4.6 million settlement with Cabot requiring the company to install gas mitigation filters for the affected homes.
Early this year, the federal EPA began an investigation of the contaminated wells — which Cabot suggested at the time was “politically motivated” — and began trucking clean water to homes in the town.
Filmmaker Josh Fox profiled the town in his 2010 documentary “Gasland,” which stirred opposition to gas drilling nationwide.
Susquehanna County, where Dimock is, has more than 150 active Marcellus shale wells, according to the latest figures from DEP.