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EPA Briefs Homeowners: Don’t Drink, Cook with Water Impacted by Chesapeake Energy Blowout in Bradford County, PA

June 24, 2011

When a Marcellus Shale gas well operated by Chesapeake Energy blew out on April 20th, thousands of gallons of fracking flowback spewed onto farmland and into Towanda Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River.   The EPA just began briefing homeowners nearby about the test results on those homeowners’ water wells.

WNEP Newswatch 16 spoke with some of those homeowners yesterday and reported,

“The Morses tell Newswatch 16 the EPA’s testing confirmed what they already knew: that high levels of sodium showed up in their well.  The couple is still drinking bottled water as a precaution.

“Just down the road, Chesapeake is installing a water filtration system at Ira Hare’s home because his water well tests were much worse.

” ‘They asked my wife if she was using it for cooking.  She said yes.  They said stop right away and they offered us a water buffalo,’ said Hare.”

“Another homeowner, who did not want to be identified, says the EPA told her they’ll test her well and others in the area again early next month.  Those results may not come back until August, so she plans to keep drinking bottled water and wait for more answers then.”

Protecting Our Waters finds it stunning that residents impacted by Chesapeake’s blowout were not previously advised not to cook with water which may be contaminated by not only high sodium, but toxic chemicals, arsenic, barium, strontium and other typical components of fracking flowback.  But it’s even more stunning that Chesapeake Energy, rather than expressing regret at not having adequately protected these homeowners, issued a statement accusing the EPA of creating “confusion” by taking protecting action.

WNEP reports, “Late Thursday afternoon, Chesapeake put out a statement saying:  ‘While we appreciate that EPA is concerned with drinking water quality in Pennsylvania, we think it is unfortunate that they are creating confusion in the community by the way they are approaching an historic and well known problem.’ ”

It appears to be standard industry PR practice to complain that when officials disclose facts about contamination, or when responsible officials take action to protect residents’ health and lives, they are somehow creating “confusion.”

Read and view WNEP’s report, “EPA briefs homeowners living near blown-out gas well,” here.

In related news, Chesapeake Energy CEO, billionnaire Aubrey McClendon, will be speaking in Philadelphia at the Marcellus Shale gas industry’s trade convention on September 7th and 8th.  A protest is planned.    McClendon is infamous not only for Chesapeake’s tendency to contaminate air and water with gas drilling, sickening some residents.  His development plans have also angered communities in Michigan and, according to the Wall Street Journal,

“He helped bankroll the Swift Boat ads against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.”

Whatever it takes to keep those profits extreme, eh Aubrey?

  1. eileen permalink
    June 24, 2011 2:26 pm

    So, with all the confusion being put out by the EPA. I’m a little confused by Chesapeake Energy’s statement, “… the way they are approaching an historic and well known PROBLEM.” What well known problem might they be referring to. Insane.

  2. June 25, 2011 9:10 am

    In northeastern Pa. (I will never call the region “upstate Pennsylvania,” as certain chambers of commerce prefer), the damage from digging and drilling never lets up. First came the underground anthracite mines and milestones like the Knox Mine Disaster; then came the strip mine business and milestones like the big black holes near Eckley Miners’ Village and Hazleton; then came the Jeddo Mine Tunnel, a gift that keeps on giving with an average of 40,000 gallons a minute of acid mine drainage going to the Chesapeake Bay; and now comes the natural gas drilling biz and even more fragmentation and outright destruction of wildlife habitat (as if sprawl didn’t do enough already), and the poisoning of surface waters adn ground water. What’s next?


  1. EPA Briefs Homeowners: Don’t Drink, Cook with Water Impacted by Chesapeake Energy Blowout in Bradford County, PA | United for Action

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