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.