In the Eakins case, the scenario was clouded by the absence of pre-drill water testing. But Jesse Eakin stated, You cant have a pre-drill test when you do not knowdo not know nobodys coming. Before substantial drilling began in the location in 2008 he had actually checked only for bacteria, not toxins frequently related to fracking.
In addition to the one filed by the Eakins, the DEP received a minimum of six water-related grievances from Cross Creek Municipality in 2009. One resident reported water that resembled tea. 3 others stated their water flow had slowed to a trickle or stopped.
Nineteen more problems was available in over the next few years. Some cases were settled privately with Range Resources; others were closed after state inspectors chose the water wells were too far away from drilling to have been impacted.
The DEP tracks all problems in a system established in the early 1990s, though its dealing with an update. A lot of information about cases is still kept in paper form at the agencys local workplaces. In January, two Center press reporters checked out the DEP workplace in Meadville, in the northwestern part of the state, to review problems, approval orders, gas business correspondence and other documents. The reporters were given incomplete case files, greatly redacted decision letters and materials that were unresponsive to open-records demands.
The old-fashioned system has actually been the topic of a number of battles in between the DEP, journalists and ecologists. It took the Scranton Times Tribune a year to get access, through a claim, to letters the department had actually sent in between 2008 and 2012 to residents informing them whether their water had been impaired by oil and gas activities. The DEP had said that it couldnt supply the documents to the newspaper since it didnt know where they were kept.
Later on, the DEP informed the investigative news outlet Public Herald that complaints were considered confidential since the department feared they would cause alarm. It took the outlet 2 years to acquire grievance files for 17 of 40 counties in the Marcellus Shale.
In an analysis of more than 200 grievances, Public Herald recognized the lots of methods cases were being closed prematurely or reduced. In some, the DEP claimed pre-drill tests showed that complainants water had been bad the whole time. (In fact, these tests had been done after drilling started.) In others, it diverted complaints from the Office of Oil and Gas Management to departments within the company such as the Environmental Cleanup Program. This kept the DEP from classifying the cases as energy-related.
Pressure from environmentalists and Auditor General DePasquale triggered the DEP to start publishing favorable determination letters informing receivers that their water had been affected by oil and gas activity online. To this day, 279 such letters have been posted.
Companies deemed accountable for damaging a supply of water are lawfully needed to change or restore it. This is much easier stated than done. A brand-new well might take advantage of the exact same unclean groundwater source as the old one. Purification systems don’t always remove every contaminant. Connecting homesthe homes of city water lines can cost tens of thousands of dollars.