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Dimock, Pennsylvania: A community paying the price for natural gas production with hydraulic fracturing fluid spills

Amy Mall

Posted September 23, 2009

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There were three significant spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid at the same natural gas well pad in Dimock over the past week. These spills, totaling over 8,000 gallons, polluted wetlands and a creek, killing fish. They violated four state laws. Astonishingly enough, the first two spills happened in the same day. Was the operation shut down after the first spill? No. Was it shut down after the second spill? No.

Dimock has certainly paid its dues. Last month I wrote that Dimock has already been the site of the explosion of a residential water well and contamination of several other water wells, in addition to two large diesel fuel spills, torn pit liners and other leaks. All of these incidents were associated with drilling conducted by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. In July, a Pennsylvania state official said: "Cabot has definitely had their share of problems out there. Some of them is just being a little bit careless... or sloppy, or maybe a little bit of bad luck too."

The hydraulic fracturing fluid that spilled, which appears to have been supplied by Halliburton, is a potential carcinogen and can cause central nervous system impacts.

Although fish were killed, according to a Cabot spokesperson, ".... the mixture that spilled is 99.5 percent freshwater," and " not dangerous or hazardous." Sound familiar?  Last month I wrote about a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluids in Louisiana, also said to be more than 99% water, yet 17 cattle died almost immediately upon drinking the fluid. Industry says that "the concentration of these elements is far below the levels necessary to pose a threat." Does anyone believe that?

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Don WilliamsSep 24 2009 04:02 AM

A U.S. Congressman lives in Dimock and is remarkably silent about what's going on in his backyard. This, along with the fish kill in PA's Dunkard Creek, is a harbinger of things to come in PA.

Ann PayneSep 24 2009 01:50 PM

Here in WV, we're wringing our hands watching 30 miles of formerly healthy stream collapse (see ) while the WV DEP keeps official water quality test results a secret because this is an 'ongoing investigation.'

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