Following years of filing lawsuits and open-records requests, the Associated Press has learned that water wells in Pennsylvania have been contaminated at least 243 times.
I say ‘at least’ because the state Department of Environmental Protection cannot be sure that every incident was properly logged.
Pennsylvania’s auditor general said in a report last month that DEP’s system for handling complaints “was woefully inadequate” and that investigators could not even determine whether all complaints were actually entered into a reporting system. [...]
The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn’t clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated.
According to the Associated Press, most of the incident occurred in the northeast part of the state.
It may not be surprising to learn that the region’s energy and drilling companies believe the problem is inadequate standards of construction for water wells.
That is to say that they favor new regulations as long as those regulations are placed on someone else. They believe the problem is that water wells are not adequately protected from their surface chemical spills.