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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Internal EPA report highlights disputes over fracking and well water

Today's post was shared by FairWarning and comes from

WASHINGTON — One year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finished testing drinking water in Dimock, Pa., after years of complaints by residents who suspected that nearby natural gas production had fouled their wells. The EPA said that for nearly all the 64 homes whose wells it sampled, the water was safe to drink.

Yet as the regulator moved to close its investigation, the staff at the mid-Atlantic EPA office in Philadelphia, which had been sampling the Dimock water, argued for continuing the assessment.

In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.

The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that "methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality." The presentation also concluded that "methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work."

Critics say the decision in July 2012 by EPA headquarters in Washington to curtail its investigation at Dimock over the objection of its on-site staff fits a troubling pattern at a time when the Obama...

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