Water Contamination May Well be Widespread Due to Drilling & Fracking

by Duane Nichols on July 18, 2018

Drilling & fracking can contaminate water in many different ways

Rex Energy Pays $159K to PA Woodlands Families to Settle Water Claims

Article by Reid Frazier, NPR StateImpact Pennsylvania, July 11, 2018

A State College-based fracking company recently paid $159,000 to settle water contamination claims brought by a group of families in Butler County. Rex Energy revealed the settlements in bankruptcy documents filed this month.

The documents were part of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed in May. In its “Statement of Financial Affairs,” the company listed the settlements, of between $11,750 and $27,125, which were paid out on April 17.

The settlements went to eight families in the Woodlands, a section of Connoquenessing Township, who began complaining about their water quality in early 2011, shortly after Rex began drilling gas wells near their homes.

Several sued Rex. One couple, Janet and Fred McIntyre, claimed in their lawsuit that they experienced severe “vomiting, headaches, and diarrhea,” and said their water “had a strong smell and bad taste, as well as an oily sheen” shortly after Rex began operating in the neighborhood.

Federal and state regulators did not think Rex Energy’s activities were the cause of the problem. Both the Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. EPA examined water tests from before and after drilling, and concluded that oil and gas activities hadn’t damaged the water supplies.

But the residents still complained. For a time, Rex provided them with water, but the company stopped in 2012. Many of the families buy their own water or receive it from a local church that runs a “water-drive” for the local community.

John Stolz, an environmental microbiologist at Duquesne University, tested the water at 150 households in the Woodlands. He found 50 families had “significant changes” either in water quality or quantity since drilling began there. He was retained by the families that sued Rex as an expert witness, but the case never went to court.

He said the water in the Woodlands is still bad. “It hasn’t changed–they’re still dependent on the volunteer water drive,” he said. “The other families that weren’t part of the case of course didn’t get any compensation whatsoever.”

Stolz said the settlement would help those who received it, but doesn’t pay for a permanent solution. He estimated a publicly-treated water line would cost $1 million to install there.

“The fact of the matter is they still don’t have water and the real issue hasn’t been resolved yet,” Stolz said.

In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed another payment of $139,000 to Joshua and Lisa Meyer of Zelionople, about 15 miles from the Woodlands, to settle their water contamination claim.

In a statement, the company said: “While we cannot comment on the settlement, Rex Energy continues to deny any wrongdoing related to this matter.”

LISTEN: “Rex Energy Pays $159K to Woodlands Families to Settle Water Claims


Many scientific studies confirm fracking water contamination | Letters | athensnews.com

To the Editor of the Athens News, Athens, Ohio, July 15, 2018

Bill Theisen has myopia (Letter to the Editor, The NEWS, June 27). He misleads the public just as industry does by using a small preliminary study to come to absolute conclusions about fracking and drinking water contamination. The results of the study are just what we would hope for! Now there is a baseline against which possible future contamination will be compared, just as the University of Cincinnati study concludes.

The following are links to articles about drinking water contamination caused by horizontal fracking including reference to the federal EPA Drinking Water Study which concluded there can be drinking water contamination caused by fracking.

• Federal EPA Drinking Water Study: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/reversing-course-epa-says-fracking-can-contaminate-drinking-water.html.

• Contamination in Pavillion Wyoming: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fracking-can-contaminate-drinking-water/.

• Dimock Pennsylvania: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/06/fracking-in-pennsylvania-201006.

• New York bans fracking because of possible contamination of drinking water: https://www.propublica.org/article/new-york-state-bans-fracking.

• Contamination and health risks from fracking in the Marcellus Shale: https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/02/23/fracking-is-dangerous-to-your-health-heres-why/#6d21103f5945.

The UC study in eastern Ohio was not conclusive. It only examined 22 wells over a short time period with the lead researcher stating that it’s vitally important that “the people of eastern Ohio should have access to regular monitoring so that they know whether well-casing failures or surface spills have occurred and that their drinking water is still safe. Higher methane content has been linked to well-casing issues and spills in other areas, including the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania.”

Further questioned about the water-quality study’s results, the UC professor agreed that “it’s an overstatement to say the study found no evidence of ‘drinking water contamination’ since it had a relatively narrow focus. It wasn’t looking for some types of contaminants.”

Bill, I did not ignore the scientific studies. Do your homework.

>>> Roxanne Groff, Amesville, Ohio

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