Company hopes results will prove it did not cause excessive gas levels in water
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. released data showing only four drinking water wells in Dimock Township, Pa., contain levels of methane that exceed levels suggested by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining. Previously, Cabot provided substantial and persuasive proof that methane gas has been present in water wells in and around the Dimock area for generations.
We do not believe that our operations caused the Dimock water quality issues," said Cabot spokesman George Stark. "However, we are committed to addressing the issue and stand ready to immediately install systems that are proven to meet safe drinking water standards."
On Sept. 30, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) announced plans for a $12 million water pipeline from Montrose, Pa., to provide drinking water to the 14 homes in the Dimock area which the PaDEP said deserve attention. According to Cabot, PaDEP has said it will attempt to compel the company to pay for construction of the pipeline, the agency plans to ask the taxpayer-funded Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for the money to construct the water line.
According to the data released by Cabot, just four of the wells associated with the PaDEP Consent Order in the Dimock area tested above the "action threshold" of 28 mg per liter of methane suggested by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, and one of those wells is on a property with a wetland, a possible source of microbial gas (gas formed as a byproduct of decomposition of organic material). The data was taken from six tests on wells conducted by Cabot scientists and eight conducted by the PaDEP.
Stark said that during April 2010 discussions with DEP, Cabot agreed to purchase state-of-the-art methane treatment systems for 14 affected homes in the Dimock area at a total cost of $193,000, and Cabot has been ready to install the systems since that time. One system has been placed and successfully tested. The household is waiting for final PaDEP approval to complete installation. Of the remaining households, eleven are suing Cabot and refused installation of the systems.
In addition to the well test results and publicly available historical documentation, Cabot has compiled records of the existence of methane gas in and around the Dimock area long before Cabot began drilling for natural gas. Additionally, Cabot provided copies of sworn affidavits from residents who acknowledged they have ignited their well water prior to Cabot drilling in their community.
Cabot also has discovered water well drillers who have encountered gas while drilling in the area, reports detailing hundreds of water wells in and around the area that tested positive for gas prior to Cabot's activities, and official U.S. Geological Survey data concluding that methane gas was present in the area's groundwater decades before Cabot started drilling.