Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PA DEP Continues to Analyze Dimock Water Supplies

PA DEP Continues to Analyze Dimock Water Supplies
Posted on: Friday, 27 March 2009, 13:00 CDT

No Indications of Contamination from Gas Well Hydro Fracturing Activities

WILKES-BARRE, Pa., March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Responding to recent concerns expressed by residents of Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, the Department of Environmental Protection has collected dozens of water supply samples in the Carter Road area and determined that nearby gas well hydro fracturing activity has not impacted local wells.

"Our laboratory analyzed the water samples from wells in the area to look for indicators that would identify and indicate impacts from gas drilling and hydro fracturing," said DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin.
Bedrin said indicators can include total dissolved solids, chlorides, specific conductivity, pH, alkalinity, hardness, sodium, calcium, barium, iron, manganese, potassium and aluminum.

"DEP will continue to pursue this investigation and collect additional samples so that residents can be assured their drinking water is safe," Bedrin added.

DEP has been actively investigating stray gas in Dimock since January when a resident reported an explosion in an outside well pit. Samples of private wells were taken from approximately 24 homes to check for dissolved methane. Nine wells were found to be impacted, with methane in four of those wells at levels that could pose a threat of explosion in enclosed areas of the home.

DEP cited these water wells in its request to Cabot Oil and Gas Co. for an ongoing alternative water supply and proper venting for as long as the methane readings remain at elevated levels. Cabot is providing those homes with alternative water supplies and is monitoring natural gas levels.

To date, no indoor vapor problems have been encountered. Additionally, the company has installed a treatment system at another home where the department concluded the water supply was impacted by drilling activities.

DEP is inspecting existing wells in the area and monitoring new drilling activity. The department continues to schedule residential visits to take water samples and monitor for gas.

"As Cabot implements its remedial actions, DEP will continue to sample home wells to determine if the company's activities are reducing the dissolved methane levels there," Bedrin said. "This procedure is time consuming and laborious, but it is a necessary process for us to get this problem solved."

Cabot corrected a recent records violation by submitting required drilling information.

The company is also implementing a new protocol for casing and cementing new gas wells. The new approach will address the unique geology of a particular area and will provide another barrier to migrating gas. For pre-existing wells, Cabot will install an additional cement sealer to prevent gas from migrating.

DEP recently opened a new oil and gas management district office in Williamsport to augment its regulatory activities in the state's north-central and northeastern regions of Marcellus Shale formation. The department has hired new staff for that office in addition to existing staff in Meadville, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

For further information, visit, keyword: Oil and Gas, then click on "Marcellus Shale."

CONTACT: Mark Carmon, 570-826-2511
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Source: PR Newswire
Very good article - glad to see progress is being made - I believe this stresses the importance of the following:
1.  Improvements to the upper terminus of the gas wells and using multiple casements and cement layers;
2. Sealing off and protecting the freshwater system - not just from the Marcellus but the shallow gas deposits.
(Multiple casings)
3. Confirmation testing on concrete seals.
4. Conducting base line analysis
5. Private well construction standards
6. Putting in place emergency response plans prior to drilling and not after.
7. Creating local hotline for calls
8. Getting citizens information and developing field screening tools.

Many of these issues are covered in proposed updated regulations.

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