The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) disclosed in a March 15, 2012 statement that samples of well water at 11 homes in Dimock, Pennsylvania (where residents claim to have suffered health problems from shale drilling operations) “did not show levels of contamination that could present a health concern.”
In mid-January, USEPA Region 3 announced that it would sample water from approximately 60 homes in the area “to further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns” as a result of shale drilling operations that commenced nearby in 2008. Region 3’s action memorandum for the testing regime identified the contaminants for which it would be testing, including arsenic, manganese, DEHP, glycol compounds, and phenols. According to USEPA’s statement (copied below): “Samples from six of the 11 homes did show concentrations of sodium, methane, chromium or bacteria, but concentrations were all within the safe range for drinking water.” Moreover, some of these compounds (such as sodium and chromium) occur naturally in groundwater in this part of the country.
Sampling results also revealed the presence of arsenic at two locations; USEPA indicated that it would re-test those locations even though the levels of arsenic found were below area water quality standards. Region 3’s sampling regime will continue as planned for the remaining homes.
USEPA Region 3’s electronic press release is copied below:
From: “Seneca.Roy@epamail.epa.gov” <Seneca.Roy@epamail.epa.gov>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 15:55:26 -0400
Subject: EPA statement on initial water sampling results in Dimock
On Jan. 19, as a result of requests from residents and a review of the data we had in hand, EPA announced it would perform water sampling at approximately 60 homes in the Carter Road/Meshoppen Creek Road area of Dimock, Pa. to further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns.
The first round of sampling results is now available for the first 11 homes that were tested during the week of Jan. 23. Sampling results from these 11 homes did not show levels of contamination that could present a health concern. Samples from six of the 11 homes did show concentrations of sodium, methane, chromium or bacteria, but concentrations were all within the safe range for drinking water. The sampling results also identified the presence of arsenic at two homes.
Out of the 11 homes tested, there are currently three homes receiving an alternate water supply provided by EPA. EPA will continue to provide water to these homes while we perform additional sampling to ensure that the drinking water quality at these homes remains consistent and acceptable for use over time. EPA is also taking a second round of samples from the two homes where arsenic was detected, and although the levels meet water standards, we will resample to better characterize the water quality of these wells. After receiving results from the second round of sampling, EPA will re-evaluate the need to continue providing an alternate water source.
EPA has offered to meet with all the residents to go over their data and answer any health-related concerns. As further quality assured data becomes available for the remaining homes, we will share with the homeowners in an expedited manner. Our actions will continue to be based on the science and the law as we work to help get a clear picture of water quality for these homes in Dimock.
EPA Region 3 Press Officer
Office of Public Affairs