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Families say fracking killed their water wells

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Thirteen families in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania have sued a Houston-based natural gas driller, claiming their wells were contaminated with fracking fluids. Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method used to extract natural gas from the deeply buried gas reserve known as the Marcellus Shale.

Susquehanna County borders New York state in northern Pennsylvania, where drilling for natural gas has hit like a gold rush. After the Houston based Southwestern Energy Company drilled a well in Lenox Township, nearby residents complained of dark sediment in their well water, and clogged wells. Then they say they began to suffer from stomach complaints, seizures and broken bones that did not heal. The state department of Environmental Protection tested their water and found high levels of strontium, barium and manganese. They were told not to drink it. This week 13 families sued.

Peter Cambs represents the families. He says the natural gas well was poorly built. Cambs has filed similar lawsuits in other states.

Cambs: “So many of the problems quite frankly is that many of the states, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, West Virginia is the worst, it is essentially unregulated. There’s very little regulation. And quite frankly a lot of these companies are rushing to the Marcellus Shale states because number one its rich in gas and also because of the lack of regulation.”

Cambs says the health problems of residents correspond to side effects that result from the chemical contaminants found in their drinking water.

Southwestern Energy denies any problems with their wells.

In nearby Dimock Pennsylvania, a private lab reports finding ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and toluene in the well water of a group of residents already dealing with methane contamination. The chemicals are among dozens found in the fracking fluid used to help extract natural gas.


  • bj says:

    I live in the dimock area. This is a natural rainforest with tall pines and maples and the very rolling hills dotted with lakes filled by natural artesian wells. And though it is near the county seat it is poorly populated area.

    My concerns are many fraching chemicals are carcinogenic. There are things that I’ve noticed that should scare the begeezus out of everyone

    Millions and ran millions of gallons are drained from the susq. River daily to pump down the wells. Chemicals are added to the water and thus it is now contaimated. If you don’t believe this thenaybe the danger and warning signs posted at each site would.

    Hundreds of trucks…hundreds pass our property daily with lettering that reads contaminated water. Where is this water going? We have no water recovery plant in our area. And when signs of dumping of such water on a rural ba k dirt road…the fine was a.handslap.

    Next a drill site near me resulted in the removal of over one.hundred natural.forest trees and vegetation. Multiply this by the thousand wells planned

    At each site a sludge pit is dug where some water that is contaminated is left to evaporate and some of these pits are using a mist sprayer to.aid in the evaporation. Considering that. Evaporatio will go into the atmosphere and return to.us as rain that the potential for this area to become contaminated is.very possible.

    The epa is doing nothing because its hands are tied due toa loopbhole added to the clean air and water act.that permits natural gas drillers not to have to abide by the federal mandates
    shame on every legislator who voted for that loophole.

    I hope this concerns you enough to ask more questions of your legislators. This is a national issue as drilling is planned for most states

  • James says:

    do people undstand that their is no K in fracturing? why is it that a water well, dug poorly 20 years back in a jack leg way… is damaged by drilling (not fracing) its blamed on the gas co and not the poor water well contractor?

  • Liz H. says:

    We left our home in western NJ because of the pollution in the air, land and water. We pay the mortgage and the taxes and the insurance, but we cannot live there. Thanks to all who pollute without limit.

    • Dave says:

      I’m finding out that those in the industry tend to consider the “victims” (ie: affected landowners)
      as money-grubbing hicks and that it’s all a ‘made-up ploy’ to extract more $$ from their heavily government-subsidized Hydro-fracturing processes….They also admit that there are a few ‘smaller’ companies that have caused the majority of the problems, but that ‘their’ (major) Company is “Green” and basically doing “God’s Work”….(the arrogance is unbridled!)

      • James says:

        the gooberment iS NOT involved in gas at all. The gas industry is NOT at all connected to uncle sam. money means you owe someone and the gas business is NOT looking for subisty… I’m in the business I know first hand

  • Mike K says:

    I’m very glad to see this lawsuit since it may force the issue of contamination by “fracking” more into the public consciousness. I’m also glad for the suit because it seems many probusiness Republicans refuse to acknowledge the dangers of hyrdraulic fracturing, choosing instead to focus only on the short term tax benefit and job growth. The conservative express panic about government spending, and then endorse this type of corporate polluting that will cost millions of taxpayer dollars in years to come for clean up. Yes, Toomey is exactly the kind of politician to sacrifice public health for corporate profit.

  • John M says:

    This law suit is important, as it documents extremely serious complaints and leaves a clear paper-trail for others to follow regarding Marcellus Shale fracturing and documenting its consequences (or lack thereof) to others considering leasing land as a hedge against economic downturns. It’s about money versus public safety.

  • KeepItSimple says:

    See or get the bumper sticker: “HIKE NY STATE-Frack-Free Since 1788!”
    http://www.makestickers.com/DesignReorder.aspx?SKU=90&DN=100905081503&cid=mzopxdq3mb4mmx45y4axtvnk Change “HIKE” to the verb of your choice! e.g.: “LIVE IN. . .” “CAMP IN. . .” “HUNT IN. . .” “SHOWER IN. . .”
    (This is an independent site, & I get no money from them.)

    • Jim says:

      Where did you get the name” keep it simple” from? I. think I know. Do you know Bill W. or Dr. Bob? Just curious.

  • TheProspector says:

    The story is not in the lawsuit — anyone can sue. The story is in the results of the lawsuit, whenever that happens. It will probably be settled out of court and we’ll never know the results.

    The gas company involved in the ethylene glycol story says that the same testing lab found the same chemicals in the same wells BEFORE the drilling. Now THAT sounds like an interesting story.

  • Bob A says:

    ?????? Whatever – its your story, tell it the way you want to.

    Hmmm, your comment seems a bit spammy. We’re not real big on spam around here.

    Please go back and try again.

  • Tom A says:

    The little guy gets the shaft and the corporations reap the huge profits…this is the way it should be and that’s why we vote for rabidly pro-corporate candidates (republicans). Suck it up home owners and buy bottled water, the main thing is there is gold in them thar hills for the wealthy few. Toomey will see to this BTW.

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