Appalachian Basin

A Crystal-Clear Moment in Bradford Co., Thanks to DEP

A month ago today, we posted on EID-Marcellus a story about a Bradford County resident named Crystal Stroud, and specifically her ongoing campaign aimed at pinning the blame for poor water quality in her well on natural gas development. Multiple news outlets reported on this story, saying that Stroud “suffered a variety of health problems” as a result of barium intrusion into her well, “including slurred speech and trembling hands. Her voice broke as she spoke about the threat posed to her son.”

After receiving a formal complaint from Mrs. Stroud on April 12th of this year, Pennsylvania DEP conducted a thorough investigation of the claim and just this week issued the findings of their analysis. While we could certainly add some commentary to this whole saga, DEP’s findings make it crystal clear that Ms. Stroud’s water well was not impacted by natural gas development. From the letter (after the jump):

The Department’s investigation reveals the water quality conditions observed in your water supply are consistent with those observed in several nearby water supply wells sampled as part of this investigation, and those that have been historically documented in the North Branch Towanda Creek valley. The Department’s investigation indicates that the conditions documented in your well reflect background conditions/pre-existing and that gas well drilling as not impacted your water supply.

The Associated Press reported on DEP’s findings, sharing with its readers the news that “elevated levels of barium and contaminants in a sickened woman’s well water in northern Pennsylvania were not caused by natural gas drilling,” according to DEP.  The AP continued: “Stroud, 29, had blamed the contaminants on a nearby Marcellus Shale well drilled by Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas LLC. Stroud appeared at an anti-drilling rally in the state Capitol last month, and told attendees that the well drilled 1,200 feet from the home where she lives with her husband and 4-year-old son poisoned her well water and made her sick. Stroud did not immediately return a telephone message left for her Thursday.

Chief Oil & Gas, the company Ms. Stroud cited as the cause for her water well contamination, also performed its own internal investigation of the allegations and arrived at similar conclusions.

The investigation by the independent experts revealed that high levels of barium and the other substances in Ms. Stroud’s well have been naturally present in the ground water in this area for quite some time. In fact, this conclusion mirrored the conclusions of a study published by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in 1998, long before any Marcellus drilling in the area. (

That report was based in part on ground water sampling conducted by the United States Geologic Survey dating back to the late 1980s, in some cases. That report concluded that levels of naturally-occurring barium in excess of the EPA’s maximum contaminant levels “are commonly found in ground water” in some wells drawing water from this area. It is likely that Ms. Stroud’s well water has had the levels of barium and other substances she reported since the day she moved into this residence.”

 To read the full report and letter from DEP, click HERE.


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