Marcellus Shale

Dimock: The Final Curtain as EPA Declares Water Samples Safe

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released another batch of water testing results in Dimock, Pa.  The latest release includes results for twelve wells and represents the near final set of findings from samples taken from approximately 60 private water wells in the town.  The agency’s latest findings match its previous determinations– Dimock’s water is safe to drink, does not pose a threat to human health, and requires no further action.

In an email earlier today, Roy Seneca, press officer for EPA region III declared the following:

EPA has completed and shared with residents and Pennsylvania state officials the fourth set of sampling for 12 private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa.  This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action.

To most of our readers this announcement will not come as a surprise.  After all, EPA’s findings affirm previous results from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas.  This seems to be, with any luck for the residents of Dimock, the final nail in the coffin of the Dimock saga.

So with all the results released where does that leave the situation in Dimock?

After four years of study, and countless state and federal resources spent assessing the situation, we now know that the water in Dimock is safe and meets drinking water standards.

The total of the public’s expense in this ongoing investigation is unknown. That being said, the EPA’s efforts alone cost taxpayers $100,000 according to internal EPA documents.  While we support ensuring the safe and responsible development of natural gas, perhaps it’s time to stop wasting resources on multiple investigations that have all reached the same conclusion.

However, the cost of this saga doesn’t end with direct expenditures on water testing and staff time.  Even if someone tallied all the resources spent by state and federal agencies on this investigation the true expense is much larger.  If proper accounting were the end goal, one should also take into account revenues lost by private citizens and local governments due to halted natural gas development in the region.  A full assessment would also include the strain on the community as a handful of litigants have pitted themselves against the majority of residents by purposely turning Dimock into a contentious place maligned by media outlets across the globe.

The litigants know this most recent finding is damning to their legal actions against Cabot Oil and Gas.  This much is noticeable in their reaction to an EPA briefing last week.

It is fitting these final EPA results arrived on a gentle spring day in northeastern Pennsylvania.  For us, it signals perhaps the turning of a page and the beginning of a new chapter for Dimock.  One that resembles the quiet life the town once knew and can’t wait to see return.

If the past is any indicator of future events this won’t happen overnight but it must be comforting knowing that reality is likely not too far over the horizon.

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