PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday the completion of its testing of Dimock, Pa., private drinking water wells.
It said, "Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency."
The issue of drinking water in Dimock initiated a crusade by organizations like the Sierra Club that said hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," was poisoning drinking water. Indeed, the Sierra Club issued a statement in December that said, "This water contamination in Dimock is a clear example of the natural gas companies like Cabot cutting corners just to save a buck."
The EPA began testing and issued a statement in March after doing extensive testing and found the water was safe. Environmentalists accused EPA of misrepresenting data.
The EPA reiterated its original findings in this latest testing. Data previously supplied by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells. After residents requested the testing, the EPA sampled water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants.
According to the EPA, between January and June, the EPA sampled private drinking water wells serving 64 homes, including two rounds of sampling at four wells where EPA was delivering temporary water supplies as a precautionary step.
There was an elevated level of manganese in untreated well water. But the two residences serviced by the well each have water treatment systems that can reduce manganese to levels that do not present a health concern.
"Our goal was to provide the Dimock community with complete and reliable information about the presence of contaminants in their drinking water and to determine whether further action was warranted to protect public health," EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said.
"The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action. Throughout EPA's work in Dimock, the Agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water."
EPA has determined that it is no longer necessary to provide residents with alternative water. It is working with residents on the schedule to disconnect the alternate water sources provided by EPA.
Overall during the sampling in Dimock, the EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. But it noted that all of these are also naturally occurring substances. The residents have now installed or will install treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap.
EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.
Kenneth Green, the environmental policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said about the EPA determination, "EPA is actually doing its job. It looked for contamination and could not find any. It was precautionary because they provided water to the residents until they determined there was no contamination. Now they have repeatedly determined there is none."
He also commented that the environmental groups like the Sierra Club are dogmatic.
"I think it is clear that the Sierra Club has declared war on fracking and natural gas," he said. "Their stated reasons of preventing water from being poisoned are disingenuous. What they really want is less energy.
"They view humanity as using too much energy, which in turn destroys the environment. There is no possibility obtaining the same amount of energy from renewable sources as from fossil fuels. Their stated objectives are insincere. Their intent is to ratchet back the amount of energy being used."
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