Friday, January 13, 2012
A Trip To Dimock, PA, Part Two
A video by Scott Cannon On January 10, 2012. I drove to Dimock Pennsylvania to find out what's going on with the DEP and the EPA's investigation on the water well contamination alleged by Cabot Oil & Gas.
Methane in three private water wells in Lenox Twp. seeped there from a flawed natural gas well drilled by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., state environmental regulators have found.
An investigation by the Department of Environmental Protection determined that the gas migrated from at least one of three Marcellus Shale wells on the Stalter well pad about a half-mile west of Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County.
The gas was found seeping into three water supplies in August. A fourth water well for a hunting cabin is still being evaluated, DEP spokesman Daniel Spadoni said.
Video from inside one of Cabot's gas wells showed that a string of steel casing meant to seal off the aquifer from contaminants was improperly constructed, according to a notice of violation sent by DEP in September.
Methane was also found between the cemented strings of casing in all three gas wells on the Stalter pad, a sign state regulators view as evidence of flaws in a well's construction.
The dissolved methane in one nearby water supply jumped from 0.3 milligrams per liter before drilling began to 49 milligrams per liter on Aug. 16 and 57 milligrams per liter on Aug. 18, according to the violation notice.
Cabot installed methane detection alarms in three homes and vented the three affected water wells to keep the methane from accumulating and creating an explosion risk. The company is also delivering replacement drinking water to two of the homes, Mr. Spadoni said. The methane in the third water well has decreased so the home does not require an alternate water supply, he said.
Cabot spokesman George Stark said Friday that the company submitted a detailed response to the DEP and is working with regulators on the issue.
"Cabot is committed to safe and responsible operations and takes matters like this very seriously," he said. "We believe in fact-based, scientific research to guide any necessary corrective actions."
Department regulators sent Cabot a violation notice on Sept. 19, but neither the department's public eFACTS compliance database nor its monthly oil and gas violations report noted the inspection or violations until last week, when a Times-Tribune reporter asked about the investigation.
DEP policy requires the oil and gas program to update the eFACTS database within 10 working days of completing an inspection or mailing a notice of violations.
Mr. Spadoni said the missing information was "an oversight."
Part One here.