Pennsylvania’s environmental groups have been pushing for a long time to have the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) release the number of drilling incidents that have resulted in water contamination. Yesterday, they finally got their wish.
According to the Associated Press, there have been 243 cases of water wells being contaminated as a result of oil and natural gas drilling since 2008.
In addition to the environmental groups, the AP and various other new agencies also filed several open-record requests and even lawsuits in order to view the documents.
According to the documents, the problems included methane gas contaminating the wells as well as wastewater spilling into the supply. In some instances, the water wells just went completely dry.
The AP found that problems occurred in twenty-two counties throughout the state with most of them occurring in the Northeast.
“I guess this is a step in the right direction,” Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club chapter said of the public release of documents on drinking well problems. “But this is something that should have been made public a long time ago.”
Meanwhile, the Marcellus Shale Coalition blamed the state’s geology for the issues.
“[Pennsylvania] has longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region’s unique geology — where stray methane gas is frequently present in and around shallow aquifers,” MSC President Dave Spigelmyer responded in a statement. “Our industry works closely and tirelessly with regulators and others to ensure that we protect our environment, striving for zero incidents.”