Last week U.S. EPA Region 3 announced that it had completed its regimen of groundwater testing for private drinking water wells of Dimock, Pennsylvania, and found no evidence of contamination that would justify further action. In a July 25 press release, Region 3 stated that it was stopping groundwater testing for Dimock residents and would no longer provide residents with alternate water supplies. Said EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin: “The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action. Throughout EPA’s work in Dimock, the Agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water.”
We have analyzed EPA’s Dimock testing announcements previously at this blog. By way of background, Dimock residents contended that hydraulic fracturing operations contaminated their groundwater, leading to various adverse health effects. In response, during the first half of 2012 EPA Region 3 tested private water wells at 64 locations to attempt to delineate the source(s) and scope of any contamination. Industry representatives consistently argued that any contaminants that might be present in the wells were not related to oil and gas development, but more likely were naturally occurring background levels or caused by other unrelated activities. After reviewing several rounds of sampling data, Region 3 deemed the town’s water safe. Region 3 did find naturally occurring levels of certain hazardous substances, including arsenic, in well water at five homes; all five homes now have or will have their own water treatment systems in place to bring the naturally-occurring substances down to acceptable levels for drinking water.
EPA Region 3′s webpage for its Dimock testing regime can be found here.