Thirteen families in rural Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against a natural gas exploration and production company alleging that its hydraulic fracturing operations have contaminated their properties and water wells and are exposing them to hazardous chemicals. Berish v. Sw. Energy Prod. Co., No. N/A (Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County, filed 9/14/10). The complaint asserts that a succession of “releases, spills and discharges of combustible gases, hazardous chemicals and industrial wastes” from defendants’ nearby drilling sites has caused the contamination.  

Plaintiffs allege that, as a result, they have been exposed to hazardous chemicals such as barium, manganese and strontium and have been forced to pay for alternative sources of water. They also allege that (i) their property values have diminished, (ii) they have lost the enjoyment and use of their property, and (iii) they have developed neurological symptoms consistent with exposure to heavy metals. They seek a preliminary and permanent injunction barring defendants from engaging in unlawful conduct, along with compensatory damages, punitive damages and the cost of future health monitoring.