November 23, 2011
For the past two years, the residents of Dimock, PA have been receiving daily water deliveries, courtesy of Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, which was found responsible for contaminating their well water. The original solution was to require Cabot to build an $11.8 million municipal water pipeline. Under a new agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, however, Cabot will cease to be responsible for providing fresh water to Dimock residents as soon as it established nineteen escrow funds – one for each affected home – with twice the assessed value of the home as well as offer to install a “whole house” methane treatment system for each household. So, effective on November 30, the water deliveries ceased.
In a separate but related development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a notice to residents of Dimock that EPA’s review has found the water in Dimock does not pose a threat to human health. EPA officials visited Dimock on November 10 and reviewed sampling data for the affected wells. According to a statement from an EPA regional office spokesman, “[b]ased on our preliminary evaluation of sampling data that was provided to us by residents and PADEP for wells in Dimock, we have not identified any ‘imminent and substantial endangerment’ which would trigger EPA to take emergency action under the Safe Drinking Water Act.” EPA further indicated that it is continuing to review the data.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for its part, claims that “Dimock water is still full of methane and other hazardous substances, and that even though the ‘whole house’ methane treatment system may reduce methane levels, it doesn’t work at taking the other contaminants out.”