Residents of Dimock, Pa., should know as soon as this weekend if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will deliver fresh water to residents claiming their water wells are too contaminated by a controversial natural gas drilling technique to drink.
Several Dimock litigants and fellow environmental activists tried Friday to get a straight, Yes or No, answer out of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson outside of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences on the matter, reported The Associated Press.
Before they could, however, she slipped out the back door before anyone could get to her, said Craig Sautner, who along with his wife, have been among the more vocal residents of that town claiming their domestic wells were contaminated after a local natural gas well was hydraulically fractured back in 2008 by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.
After missing their opportunity to talk to the head of the EPA, they went to the EPA's regional headquarters. There they were assured the agency is reviewing additional water testing data and will retest water samples to investigate claims made by the local residents and counter-claims made by both the state's Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and Cabot Oil, Sautner said.
It's an impasse that has the Sautners and 11 other households trying to hold the company accountable and living off of bottled water.
If the EPA does not provide water to the residents of Dimock, it shows that if the natural gas industry (messes up) you are on your own and out of luck, said Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries.
Gallay said his organization was able to broker a delivery of four pallets of bottled water to the residents, but the real challenge is storing it. He said the residents do not have the storage capacity to adequately store bulk water shipments with which to wash clothes and bathe.
The residents have been reluctant to use the water from their domestic wells, even after the EPA, Cabot Oil and the PADEP all at one point ruled the water was safe. Obligatory water shipments Cabot Oil made to the residents were discontinued at the end of November 2011.
Meanwhile, the EPA is continuing its review of its earlier decision that Dimonck water is safe to drink.
We believe that the information provided to us by the residents deserves further review and we have been actively visiting homes to learn more, said the EPA in statement.
If at the end of its review, the EPA draws a link between the ground water contamination and the natural gas drilling, it will be the second such finding. The first came last month when a draft study by the agency found that natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing contaminated water wells in Wyoming.