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Amy Mall’s Blog

Pennsylvania discloses more drinking water contamination caused by the oil and gas industry

Amy Mall

Posted September 3, 2014 in Health and the Environment

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In July I blogged about a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation that uncovered 209 cases where the oil and gas industry contaminated Pennsylvania private water supplies between 2008 and 2014. That number was based on an "early version" of a spreadsheet compiled by state regulators and provided to the Post-Gazette in response to an open records request.

Now the state has released the final version of the spreadsheet. It includes 248 cases where oil and gas companies contaminated private drinking water supplies. According to the AP, the spreadsheet includes some cases where multiple water wells were contaminated. The state document provides links to letters that outline the contamination found in each case but not the current status (in some cases the state says that the drinking water has returned to acceptable quality).

The letters don't explain how the contamination occurred, so there is no way for the public to know the role that fracking played, if any, in these cases. More independent scientific research is needed to fully understand how drinking water contamination is occurring, if and how it can be prevented, and what rules need to be in place to protect this vital resource.

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