A federal judge has denied a motion by Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation to dismiss a case brought by Dimock Township residents two years ago. The residents claim their water, health, and property was damaged by the Pennsylvania natural gas driller. Cabot motioned to have a federal judge throw out the case brought by over 60 residents of the Susquehanna County township. The gas company has argued that the families failed to establish a legal basis for the law suit against them.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said Cabot could stop delivery of clean water by November 30. This was outlined in a December 2010 settlement between the DEP and Cabot.
The settlement also required that:
- Cabot offer to install methane-removal systems
- Fund escrow accounts with twice the tax-assessed value of each of the 19 affected Susquehanna County homes.
However, this settlement did not require the company to restore the water to its pre-drilling quality. Now Dimock Township residents are making last-minute push to prolong the water deliveries from Cabot. In a recent petition for an injunction, the families state the department’s settlement terms ignored state law, which requires drillers to permanently restore or replace water supplies contaminated by their operations. Cabot is denying contamination was caused by their drilling activities. Their argument is that the appeal came too late from the Dimock residents. Cabot is also claiming their well water is safe to drink and even if it were not, the Dimock residents could get their own fresh water delivered “at modest cost” or collect it from a local well in Montrose.
Filed almost two years ago in November of 2009, the Susquehanna County residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania claimed Cabot Oil and Gas’s drilling activities introduced methane and other toxins into their properties and drinking water, causing illness, property damage, fear of future sickness and emotional distress. Pennsylvania courts have not directly addressed whether gas drilling is an “abnormally dangerous” activity that fits the strict liability standard.