Pipeline a necessary solution to Dimock water woes COMMENTARY George E. Turner

Date: February 28, 2011

IF THE state Department of Environmental Protection\’s plan for a water pipeline in aMarcellus Shale-impacted community is “just a conduit for green activists,” as a recent commentary suggested, then why does certain Dimock Township drinking water smell like a chemical factory?

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. is denying that its gas drilling operations in Dimock, Susquehanna County, caused contamination of drinking water, as stated by DEP Secretary John Hanger in a letter to residents who have been affected. Hanger said, “Cabot is responsible for the gas migration that has caused families to be without permanent water supply for nearly two years, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will seek court orders to make Cabot pay for all costs.”

As a licensed geologist with more than 20 years of experience working with groundwater and soil contamination in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, I can state with authority that DEP\’s pipeline solution might not be the only solution, and it might not be the best, but it is one that will work.

DEP is justified when it insists that Cabot should pay the $12 million to construct a pipeline from Montrose to Dimock to bring safe drinking water to the people whose lives have been disrupted and endangered by alleged negligence.

As long as DEP is assessing blame and allocating punishment, it should go one step further and force Cabot to clean the groundwater that already is contaminated in the aquifer.

People think that a contaminated aquifer is a “done deal” and can\’t be cleaned. Any good hydrogeologist knows better. The aquifer in Dimock can be cleaned, and it needs to be cleaned.

People are focusing on methane contamination in the water. Methane is only a small part of the contamination. Methane has no color. The water from some Dimock wells is gray. Methane has no smell. Dimock water smells like a chemical factory.

Extremely low levels of methane in drinking water are common in this area, so when Cabot says the water was previously contaminated with methane, what it\’s stating is technically true. However, when Cabot implies that the heavily contaminated water coming out of the wells now is no different than the water people used to be able to drink, it is stretching the boundaries of believability. Anyone who has seen, or smelled, the water now coming out of the wells in Dimock would know, without a doubt, that nobody ever drank it.

If Cabot did it, as the DEP stated the drilling company did, then Cabot should be forced to clean it. And if the cost bankrupts the company, then so be it. Cabot will then serve as an excellent example to other drilling companies of how not to run a business.

If other drilling companies are terrified of having the same thing happen to them, they will be a lot less likely to make a mistake, and cause another Dimock.

 

George E. Turner, a resident of Tunkhannock, is a licensed geologist.

 

Copyright: Times Leader

 

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.