The natural gas flourish in Pennsylvania guarantees less expensive, cleaner-burning fuel, steady employment, and the U.S.'s likelihood of becoming free of foreign oil. But could it be the seemingly cost to all these? The small town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, home to around 1,500 individuals, has probably the best producing Marcellus wells in the state. It is presently popular around the world. But not for the reasons a portion of the townsfolk would like. The name Dimock has become inseparable from flaming taps, and all that might turn out badly when the gas drillers come to town. However, the battle about Dimock's water and reputation has isolated the town.
The town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, has been the center of controversy over the environmental effect of hydraulic fracturing. Residents of Dimock depend on groundwater, and in 2009 they had to acquire substitute sources due to contamination of their groundwater that they accused of wells drilled by Cabot. The affected residents claim that gas drilling has contaminated residential drinking water wells. Cabot had drilled and fracked 62 wells in a nine-square-mile area around Dimock. Cabot denied and has kept denying that their wells were liable for the contamination. Dimock featured notably in the anti-fracking "documentary" Gasland.
One of Dimock's residents and a retired school teacher, Victoria Switzer, said in a 2012 post at StateImpact Pennsylvania that gas drilling poisoned her water with methane and drilling chemicals. Although, some of her neighbors have averted against her. She just wanted her well to be safe and protected.
Switzer added that Cabot Oil and Gas, the company that came to drill six years ago, won't assume a sense of ownership with the damage to water supplies.
Since the contamination surfaced in 2009, state regulators have prohibited the company from drilling or finishing any new wells in the town. Also, Switzer concluded that some in Dimock have blamed her and the ten different families suing the gas company.
An encounter that is never forgotten.
Dimock's gas boom started in 2006 when the landmen began knocking on doors eager to buy the residents' mineral rights and drill for natural gas. Victoria Switzer was amidst building her dream home.
Jim Grimsley, another Dimock resident, recollects the day too. They thought they were getting a very decent arrangement at that point. The person that knocks on your doors was a decent talker, and he was sharp. So then they signed.
The residents continued that the one thing everyone settled on: The landmen were not completely honest. Cabot purchased mineral rights in Dimock for $25 an acre. Afterward, similar deals in nearby towns were going for $4,000 to $5,000 an acre.
That is the part where settlement on natural gas drilling and relations with Cabot appears to end.
Here's the place where the residents encounter differences from each other.
After the drilling started, Switzer says she saw changes in the quality of her well water. It's been foamy and dim, with an unrecognizable smell. It's become orange. At different times, it looked like Alka seltzer. The changes travel every which way. She says private water tests have shown ethylene glycol and undeniable degrees of methane. Switzer says she attempted to work with Cabot, yet it was for nothing.
Switzer continued that they were arrogant mean, and they said to sue them, and they'll lose. So Switzer joined the lawsuit due to what she calls a lopsided battle.
Alert the Media
Due to the residents' frustrations, they decided to call the local newspaper. They came to mind that of all the help they asked from the gas company, the elected officials, and the DEP, they were not heard not until the media got the things done.
Before long, TV cameras from as distant as Germany and Japan showed up at Dimock's doorstep. Furthermore, a few neighbors said the coverage was totally out of line. Even though Teel says she, as well, definitely disapproved of her drinking water, she says Cabot was very responsive.
The residents who complained all sold their mineral rights, and they've all gotten royalties from gas drilling. Switzer said she's not against natural gas extraction. Yet, she said the subsequent terrible water had been a huge cost to pay.
Cabot has eight wells on one of the resident's properties. The water was likewise impacted by drilling from the get-go. It caused lines clogged up with sediment.
DEP To the Rescue (Or Not)
Nine months after a resident's water well exploded in January 2009, the state Department of Environmental Protection referred Cabot for flawed good construction. DEP said Cabot's work contributed to methane migration into the aquifer.
The DEP never said deep fracking contaminated the water, just that methane got away from certain gas wells and streamed into the spring. What followed were several consent orders.
One ordered Cabot to provide residents with water. After a year, in November 2010, the state vowed to pipe in treated water from a nearby town. Authorities said they would force Cabot to compensate the state for the expenses, regardless of whether it implied suing the company. However, a month after the fact, that plan was cut out. Instead, the DEP arranged a financial settlement directly with Cabot, which incorporated establishing a water filtration system.
Those suing Cabot, like Switzer, dismissed the arrangement as insufficient. Some residents accepted it, and this caused another rift.
What is next for Dimock?
The residents believe that the issue is not media hype. It is what's doing right. Some stated that they would never trust the water that runs from their tap again.
As far as it matters for Jim, Grimsley says he couldn't say whether some water wells are as yet polluted or not, and he couldn't say whether Cabot is mindful. However, he contends that, in any case, the damage to the local area is done.
Cabot says its drilling operation didn't pollute Dimock's aquifer. Company representative George Stark says undeniable degrees of methane has consistently existed in Dimock's water wells. Their one misstep, says Stark, isn't directing pre-drill tests for methane. State environmental regulators have referred to Cabot Oil and Gas multiple times for infringement in the town of Dimock starting around 2009. In November 2011, the DEP permitted Cabot to quit giving clean water to residents along Carter Road.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ventured into the debate, consenting to give water to three households and lead its water testing. The federal agency has gathered water samples from around 60 households. Up until this point, it has let outcomes out of 11 households. The EPA says it has observed nothing in those tests that should keep anybody drinking the water. However, researchers consulted by the actual residents themselves dispute that conclusion.