More Data from Dimock: EPA Confirms Water is Safe (Again)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released additional data from Dimock, Pennsylvania that indicates the water in this rural town does not pose a threat to residents’ health. The testing confirms two earlier statements made by the agency: The first made in reviewing previous DEP and Cabot water testing data and the second after releasing results on 11 wells sampled by the agency itself. All EPA test results released to date can be found here.

According to EPA spokesperson Roy Seneca:

“This set of sam­pling did not show lev­els of con­t­a­m­i­nants that would give EPA rea­son to take imme­di­ate action. EPA remains com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing Dimock res­i­dents with the best avail­able data and infor­ma­tion on the qual­ity of drink­ing water as expe­di­tiously as possible.”

“It’s obviously very good news for the folks who actually live there, and pretty squarely in line with what we’ve known up there for a while now,” EID told POLITICO earlier today (subs. req’d). “It’s not very good news for the out-of-state folks who have sought to use Dimock as a talking point in their efforts to prevent development elsewhere, but I’m sure they’ll be working hard over the weekend to spin it differently, notwithstanding the pretty clear statement made by EPA today.”

George Stark, spokesperson for Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, released the following statement:

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency released the second set of water samples compiled at private drinking water wells in Dimock Pa. This data confirms the earlier EPA finding that levels of contaminants found do not possess a threat to human health and the environment.  The EPA data is consistent with literally thousands of pages of water quality data accumulated by state and local authorities and by Cabot.

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Comments

  1. You have taken away fame and fear and the dream of fortune for groups like NYRAD and Josh Fox. The gang with the brown jug has to face the town and now yells bullies. His pal that brings him water and the lady who is trying to mark the next town over with the scarlet letter.
    EID has taken all this away….. You have ruined the fear campaign. I hope all that fanned the flame will be helping consult the families that will now be shunned.

    Thank you EID to you constant relentless energy to find the facts….

    Now where could that town sign be? HMMMMMM is it a trophy to some sickos that tried to bring a town to its knees?

  2. ed says:

    Three of the 20 wells in this round of sampling – and one well in the first round – contained methane at levels higher than the point when it begins to seep out of water, creating a potential explosion risk in enclosed spaces. Three other wells in this round had methane at levels above the state’s reporting limit.

    Mr. Seneca said the EPA alerted the residents and state and local officials to methane levels above 28 milligrams per liter. Two of the wells were not connected to the homes because residents had been receiving alternate water from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the natural gas driller that the state found responsible for causing the gas migration. The two other homeowners said they were already aware of the high methane levels, he said.

    The results released Friday also showed one well with barium above drinking water standards, but a reverse osmosis treatment system at the home reduced it to safe levels. Arsenic in another well exceeded safe drinking water standards in the raw water but was within the safe limit at the tap.

    Other wells contained sodium, lithium, bacteria and lead at levels that triggered an expedited toxicologist’s review, but none was finally determined to pose a threat. Low levels of toluene, petroleum hydrocarbons, the plasticizer known as DEHP and other compounds were also detected in the water supplies.

    Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/epa-releases-20-new-dimock-water-test-results-1.1296333#ixzz1rMc10V5q

    So the EPA is saying there is a potential explosion risk, but some of the wells are not hooked up to the houses so there is no need for immediate action. That’s your definition of safe?

    • Tom says:

      Repeat: Methane is common to that area and can be easily vented. Arsenic and barium are also found not infrequently and have nothing to do with natural gas exploration or hydraulic fracturing. The mere fact things are found doesn’t mean they are unsafe or caused by natural gas development. That’s the essential fact you refuse to recognize.

      • ed says:

        The essential facts you fail to recognize are that isotopic testing as well as the presence of ethane have pointed to this gas being thermogenic shale gas. Not biogenic naturally occurring gas. And pardon me for saying, but your “naturally occurring” theory doesn’t hold water (pun intended) when non naturally occurring compounds such as Butyl Benzyl Pthalate and others have been detected in the water test results. (page 36 of the PDF)

        • Tom says:

          Has it ever occurred to you “non naturally occurring” compounds have many sources other than natural gas development, or are you intent on attributing any quantity of anything found, regardless of amount, to the gas? Oh, wait – I think I know the answer.

          • Ed, Methane is not pollution nor is it toxic. My neighbor has methane is his water. He has a separator on his well. We do not have an operational NG well in our area? You and people like you and your constant quest to blame all on an industry continue to get exposed.
            I think your concern is more about abundance of something that could cause issue with grants and funding. Walter Hang recently stated that NG /methane is at a very low price as if it is a bad thing? Again the fear of abundance… a liberals worst nightmare private industry surviving without heavy subsidies,tax abatement’s, and grants operating on private land. If you want to here something totally ridiculous listen to this interview. http://www.greedylandowners.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=549 read the comments. We could have pneumatic fracturing and you would still be against it. Your comments along with Hangs continues to prove this.

          • ed says:

            Where exactly did I say the “non naturally occurring” compounds are due to gas drilling? Even the EPA has said they are not looking at causation until all of the results are in. I’m confident they will make a few determinations down the road a bit.

            Here’s a question for you: If the water is fine, why has Cabot been delivering water to at least 2 households not involved with the original complaint in Dimock? Seems kind of silly on their part if they are claiming everything is fine and after fighting so hard to stop the water deliveries to the people the DEP said they affected.

          • Concerned Scientist says:

            Thermogenic methane can also be naturally occurring. The sandstones just below the aquifer in that area are charged with thermogenic methane. Much of the naturally occurring methane in the area prior to drilling was thermogenic.

            That is not to say that drilling can’t cause methane migration. It can. But the methane doesn’t come from the Marcellus and has nothing to do with fracking. It could be any kind of well – a water well, a geothermal well or an oil or gas well. The methane comes from the sandstone formations just below the aquifer, thousands of feet above the Marcellus. It is probably sourced from thin organic rich beds in the Upper Devonian. If wells are not properly cemented or if there is a problem with the cement not setting up fast enough to prevent the methane in that underlying sandstone from channeling up through it, methane contamination can occur. Companies know this and have made changes to their cement chemistry and that has solved the problem. Again it is not related to fracking, it is related to drilling. It does not come from the Marcellus. Look for youtube videos from Salt Springs State Park to see naturally occurring thermogenic methane bubbling up to the surface. It has been doing that there for at least 200 years.

            There are literally tens of thousands of water wells that have naturally occurring methane in their water and probably <100 that have been contaminated with methane by drilling of Marcellus wells.

            A far more likely source for some of the non-naturally occurring contaminants that Ed mentions above is poorly constructed water wells. These can be a pathway for downward flow of anything spilled on the surface. Water wells should be cemented too, but many are not. Anything that is spilled on the surface such as gasoline could work its way down the well outside of the well, get into the aquifer and then flow into the neighbors well. This is far more common than contamination from oil and gas drilling.

            Butyl Benzyl Pthalate (which sounds really scary) probably comes from the PVC pipes in the well or the house.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzyl_butyl_phthalate

            The arsenic, sodium and barium are naturally occurring and not related to drilling.

            About 50% of all private water wells in PA do not have water that meets EPA drinking water standards. And this has nothing to do with gas drilling. The local geology, surface activities and poor well construction are the causes. Ironically, areas where Marcellus drilling occur will probably end up with cleaner well water because of all of the testing that is being done. most people are unaware that their water is not up to standards but the testing paid for by the companies will enlighten them. They will also have money to do something about it from the royalty checks.

        • John says:

          Well, that’s an interesting proposition Ed. Just want to remind folks that Cabot and DEP in over two years of water testing has not declared the methane is thermogenic from the Marcellus Shale. A Duke University study, often touted by anti-natural gas development interests, said the chemicals Ed mentioned did not come from hydraulic fracturing. Ed, you declaring naturally existing methane is bunk does not make it so. In actuality, a study with nearly 2,000 samples throughout Susquehanna County shows methane in 70% of water wells completely unrelated to natural gas development and Salt Spring State Park has been catching fire with methane since the 1800’s.

          • Vera says:

            the Duke Study did not test for any fracking chemicals. You have to read the Duke Study.

            What was reported or written by others is not what Duke has said. Look at the original study.

            Methane in 70 % of wells doesn’t mean it’s at high levels over 7 mg/liter– see how many, percentage are over 7 mg/liter.

            And when drilling and fracking happen in an area, the percentages can go way up

            and it’s the metals, chemicals, radium that comes along with the methane that is
            of greater concern.

            I say again, come and drink the water on Carter Rd. where it’s affected and look at
            it and see if you would offer it to your children and grandchildren.

          • Tom says:

            What? The Duke study specifically said hydraulic fracturing was not a problem in Duke. I read the full study.

          • you’ll have to read the study again– Duke did not test for fracking chemicals and you
            can write the researchers and ask them yourself. I asked them .

          • Tom says:

            I suggest everyone read the Duke study and this:

            http://eidmarcellus.org/blog/duke-study-misrepresented/736/

            and this:

            http://www.energyindepth.org/2011/05/durham-bull/

            Here’s what the Duke study said:

            “Based on our data (Table 2), we found no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids.”

  3. JOHN SUKKA says:

    HEY GUYS ANDD GALS AND EVERYONE HOW ABOUT WE LET EPA DO THE TESTING AND THE SCIENCE, OTHERWISE WE COULD HAVE HAD THE ACTOR AND JOSH AND HIS PALS DO THE TESTING.

  4. Vera says:

    this last round of test results doesn’t say the water is “safe”. this is an interpretation by those want to say it is “safe” to drink. EPA says the results show that no “immediate action” is to be taken based on the results. So, what does that mean? Rather ambiguous. You can take it to mean whatever is your focus and particular bias.
    EPA can be sued and is being careful in their use of words.
    They are not coming right out and saying it is “safe to drink” .
    I’ve seen the water many times with these families over several years and I wouldn’t drink it or give it to my children or family.
    Those who are convinced it’s safe to drink, then I can help set up a “drinking party” for you all and you can drink the water, a full 8 oz. glass and let us know how you feel and look at it visually. It doesn’t look safe to drink. Let me know and we’ll set this up and have cameras record it. Also, separate scientists and hydrogeologists have looked at the results and find them unacceptable for safe drinking. Would you like to see those appraisals of the recent EPA results?

    • Vera
      You seem to be the desperate one looking for words and paraphrases that will help keep the “water is bad lie” alive. You know I have drank the water, EID has drank the water yet you offer to set up a water party (let me guess) at the Saunters and challenge us to drink it. BS’ I wouldn’t drink there water for all the money in china. Who knows what they’ll dump in it for an arranged water drinking party involving pro gassers? on top of that’ they are finding sewage from their own septic tanks in the water. I have a better Idea… why don’t you come up to Vestal NY where Matt Ryan has been dumping raw sewage into the river (up to 500,000 gallons a day) and drink from that pristine river you are proclaiming to want to protect from drilling but over look this debacle.

      NYRAD – KILLING UPSTATE JOB OPPORTUNITY SINCE 2008 !!!

      • Victor, when did you drink the water in Dimock that is “impacted” and who’s water was it and how much did you drink? No, I’m not asking you to drink Sautners water. You can drink Scott Ely’s water. I don’t know anything about you drinking any impacted Dimock Water. And when
        are you going to buy some property that can be fracked here in Pa.., since you’re going to have
        to wait a long time in NY to get fracked?

        • Tom says:

          I drank the water, Vera, before treatment. The game is up and you cannot seem to face it.

          See http://eidmarcellus.org/blog/i-know-contamination-and-theres-none-in-dimock/2890/

        • Vera I posted the front page story in the Norwich News Paper several times on this and many other blogs. I have drank in front of crowds many many gallons of water from Dimock. Get off the water Vera the results are in it’s been a lie and everybody knows it now

          • you haven’t drank in front of me and videos and drank the water that is any of the litigants–
            I don’t know what water you’re talking about– no point discussing it further– you’re not able to do what I’m asking but make up something else — !

          • Tom says:

            If you won’t see what’s before your eyes, we can’t help.

    • Concerned Scientist says:

      OK this is parsing words now Vera. If the water was not safe to drink EPA would take immediate action. If they are worried about being sued – if they had any real doubt about the safety of the water – they would take immediate action and tell the people not to drink the water. They did not do that.

      At least some of the methane in these wells is probably related to drilling and poor cement and needs to be addressed. The cloudiness is probably from the wells being shut in for so long but it could be related to the methane. If they are still cloudy after running them for a few hours then it is probably the methane. I think Cabot should probably have drilled everyone a new well or paid for a new well with good casing and cement as many problems with water wells come from poor well construction.

      If you have a private well, it probably has chemicals in it that would scare you to see them on a list. 50% of all PA private wells do not meet EPA drinking water standards and it has nothing to do with drilling or fracking.

      • ed says:

        Simply question, as the report stated a couple of the wells were being delivered water by Cabot. These are not homes that were initially involved. Why has Cabot been delivering water to them if it’s safe?

        You forgot to mention why 50 percent of PA private wells do not meed EPA standards.. it’s called Bacteria not methane, arsenic, barium, chemicals with no known safe limits, etc.

        • John says:

          Ed, I don’t have an answer to that question as I have not talked with Cabot.

          Your second assertion is merely a statement designed to make you seem like an authority when you seem to be anything but. The reason why 50 percent of the Commonwealth’s wells don’t meet EPA standards is because there are no standards in place for private well construction leading to pollution of all kinds as there are multiple pathways for any and all pollutants. Bacteria pollution, is the most common form of pollution in the Commonwealth, because unlike metals and other pollutants it is widespread throughout the entire Commonwealth. Other pollutants like barium, manganese and arsenic are common in areas of PA like northeast Pennsylvania for example according to USGS and PA documents dating back to the 1940’s.

        • Concerned Scientist says:

          Ed,

          Please show me where you found BBP to be part of diesel fuel. Butyl Benzyl Pthalate (BBP) is a plasticizer and is found in plastics. I googled it and can’t find any reference to it being found in diesel fuel.

          Plastic pipes are very very common. It doesn’t even have to be in the well, although I am not convinced that it isn’t.

          This is a good talk to listen to if you want to learn about wells and water quality, no matter what side of the issue you are on

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeFP91qL2a8&feature=player_embedded

          He says that soft plastic was the source of the Pthalates and that are found in wells and that about 8% of the wells he has looked at away from Marcellus activity have levels that exceed EPA safe drinking water standards.

          Bacteria are the number one problem. He and others also commonly find lead, iron, manganese, arsenic, sodium, and more above the safe drinking water standards.

          The testing associated with Marcellus drilling will lead to a correction of many of the existing problems in people’s wells and areas where Marcellus drilling occurs will end up with cleaner water than areas away from Marcellus drilling.

          • ed says:

            CS, you aren’t looking deep enough. Components of Diesel are Olefins. In particular styrene and indene. BBP is t used in the manufacture of said styrene. Perhaps it’s time to add some more reference material other than google?

            Again, the black coil pipe that goes inside of a well is HDPE, not pvc.

            Ahh the drilling leading to cleaner water statement again.. I’ll agree to that when you agree dumping water in your car’s oil is good for the car. Afterall, you’ll need to change the oil and that’s good for a car right?

  5. ed says:

    John, let’s talk about this methane. Here is a map showing pre drilling test data:

    http://www.arcgis.com/explorer/?open=3c5656a857df4bc6abc9f726623d1c81&extent=-8600505.1894264,5061649.3508489,-8329581.37870828,5175096.21741608

    I’m not seeing 70 percent of the tested wells showing methane in Susquehanna County showing methane are you? Of the ones that do is is usually in the 3 – 100 ug/l range. HUGE DIFFERENCE IN POST DRILLING TESTING SHOWING 28000+ UG/L. Yeah no problems there…

  6. ed says:

    concerned scientist. Nice theory on the BBP and pvc pipe. However, are you aware that the coil pipe in water wells is NOT PVC and IS HDPE. High density polyethylene which is considered one of the safest for long term and repeated storage of foods.
    http://www.consultingchemist.com/Phthalates.pdf
    As some of the water tests showing BBP were taken at the well, your pvc theory is flawed.

    • Concerned Scientist says:

      Ed

      PVC pipe is the most likely origin for the BBP. I am guessing that you think that it is somehow related to gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing. Please explain where it comes from, where this substance is used in the process and how it might end up in the water well.

      The PVC doesn’t even need to be in the water well. It could be in perforated pipe around the house used for drainage, rain gutters or anywhere near the well.

      • ed says:

        Another likely origin for the detected BBP could just as easily be a diesel fuel spill. How many times did Cabot spill diesel there? (here’s a hint at least 5)

        But, that is just speculation and if you are truly a concerned scientist you would be looking at all possibilities, not just a way to dismiss it by saying oh it’s pvc pipe (which isn’t even used in wells).

        • John says:

          I’ll let concerned scientist respond to the BBP. That being said, I do find it interesting that you are dismissing his dedication to science by claiming he is just dismissing possibilities while you are equally guilty of dismissing peer-reviewed studies, thousands of pages of water testing and historical records which dispute your assertions.

          • ed says:

            @john I’ve read the recent Dimock EPA test results, have you? Not an op-ed, the actual results. There are non-naturally occurring chemicals found. There are high levels of methane that were not present before drilling. ( Again finding 3 – 100 ppb which is way under the safe limit is an entirely different thing than finding upwards of 50,000 ppb – which is an explosion risk.) There are chemicals detected that have no safe level established.

            Saying there is no need for immediate action because a few of the houses are on a water buffalo is definitely not the same as saying the water is safe which appears to be how you have attempted to spin it.

            Thousands of pages of water testing results showing clean water? cite some sources?

          • Tom says:
          • yes, cite sources that say this water is safe to drink and bathe in. Cite peer-review results that show this water is safe. All the tests Cabot has done on our county water have no
            peer-review results– Show scientists peer-reviewing these studies. The water
            is contaminated and should not be drunk.
            you have other areas in our county contaminated. Not just Dimock and other counties
            with dozens of cases. And it’s not just the water, the air is impacted with tons of Voc’s, Btex’s,
            toxins that we should not have to breathe.
            We won’t be able to convince one another. The Royalties are very low for the families affected. They have been dropping to negligible amounts. You can’t just drill a new well in an aquifer
            that is compromised. The treatment systems have not been proven to deal with all the contaminants. Why is Cabot still delivering water to families in Lenox near Mt. View Schools, if the problem is easily dealt with?

          • Tom says:

            Talk about rambling!

  7. GettheFacts says:

    Just curious since Vera thinks she knows so much. Did she happen to see the water tests from the home on Carter Rd. that is now a litigant from when they purchased it in I believe 2008? These people have twice the assessed value of their homes in escrow. Some have already taken it. This money can be used for whatever they want. They can buy bottled water, have a new well drilled. Or, they can take the free treatment system that has been offered to them numerous times! Does everyone know these people get monthly royalty checks from the gas company each month. They have plenty of money to do whatever they would like to do. Oh, they get to keep the home they have as well. So, they can rent it or sell it if they don’t want to live here. EPA has told home owners the water is fine to drink. Did I mention they can take the free treatment system, the money (twice the assessed value of the home)keep the home, and continue to sue. Now let me ask you if it was truly about the water wouldn’t they have taken the treatment systems and the money? Why is it that the media has never once showed the water that comes from a certain well instead they show a cut scene and a brown jug. Could it be the water is no longer brown.? I believe youtube had a video done by Vera or a puppet that showed the water as it came from a hose and it was clear as can be. So, once again it isn’t about the water.

  8. GettheFacts says:
    • ed says:

      concerning the video you linked to:
      @ 1:00 “so is that normal it (mehtane level) can go up and down like that?” “yeah”
      @1:10 “so what do you have 4 readings on the methane” “3 so far and 3 zeros”
      @3:24 “so it went from explosive to zero?” “That’s what we recorded, Yes.” “have you ever seen that before” “yeah I’ve seen it before.. running the water”
      @3:40 “you know we have the pump err water on now and the gas has gone down but you come back in a couple of hours and it might come back up”

      Thanks for the Facts “getthefacts” sure shows methane in that well on 11/11/2011.

      • ed says:

        correction the video was taped on 10/25/2011 (posted on 11/11/2011)

      • Tom says:

        I am amazed at how you seek to find anything straw to grasp at to prove a point on which the people of Dimock, Cabot’s independent water testers, the DEP and the EPA all disagree with you. You’re so determined to blame natural gas for something, anything at all, that you are stretching to absurdity. You are obsessed!

        • ed says:

          LOL obsessed by pointing out the crux of the video reported and not turning a blind eye to the actual facts? Again tom, let’s see the test data from the dep and cabot for this area? If they disagree show me the data? I’ve seen the EPA data that surely doesn’t disagree when it’s showing explosive levels of methane and claiming no immediate action is required because the water wells are not in service and the houses are being supplied water by a water buffalo.

          • John says:

            The simple fact is that EPA’s testing, Cabot testing and DEP testing show the water meets SDWA standards and is below trigger levels – all of which are available online and we have linked to many times before. We even provide a link to all EPA’s test in this post. Methane is non-toxic in water and is not an issue when properly vented. It’s that simple.

          • you can’t say that methane is non-toxic in water– there are no long-term studies of this–

          • John says:

            Vera, this statement shows you don’t understand. Methane is a gas, it evaporates out of water, it is one of the most abundant elements on the planet and only becomes toxic when reaches levels of saturation in the air which allow it to reach an explosive hazard or asphyxiation threat.

          • excellent points, Ed– thanks, for writing —

          • Ed/Vira
            Just a basic observation.
            Ed,

            The Flammable Range (Explosive Range) is the range of a concentration of a gas or vapor that will burn (or explode) if an ignition source is introduced.

            What level of “EXPLOSIVE” are we talking about? Lower level, upper level?
            What is the % to be considered lower or upper?

            If it is such anEXPLOSIVE level as you state how is it houses can be insured?

            Vera again with the poison water …..I always look to the community for answers as you well know. .If its so bad why is it ELY is building a 7000 sqf house on Carter rd? Seems odd would you say?

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