Wednesday, March 21, 2012

EPA says water in Dimock, Pa., is safe to drink, but fracking contamination worse than reported

The Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that tests showed water believed to be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing in Dimock, Pa., is safe to drink, perhaps "vindicating the energy industry’s insistence that drilling had not caused pollution in the area," reports Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica. EPA did not reveal, though, that water samples from the area "contained dangerous quantities of methane gas," and other contaminants, a finding that confirms the agency's initial concerns and complaints from Dimock residents about contamination, Lustgarten reports.

The EPA finding suggests the substances detected don't violate specific drinking-water guidelines, but standards for some of the contaminants don't exist, and experts say the agency should have said it found them. "Any suggestion that water from these wells is safe for domestic use would be preliminary or inappropriate,” said Ron Bishop, a chemist at the State University of New York-Oneonta. Lustgarten reports Dimock residents are trying to "reconcile" EPA findings with private water testing results. Meanwhile, EPA press secretary Betsaida Alcantara said the agency was trying to be "forthcoming" by giving residents the results. (Read more)

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