Feb 16, 2011

First Claim Filed in New York for Contamination Caused by Natural Gas Drilling

Suit alleges drilling contaminated nine families' drinking water supplies

Napoli Bern Ripka & Associates LLP, a law firm based primarily in New York City, announced that it has commenced litigation against the Anschutz Exploration Corp. and its subcontractors on behalf of nine families for the contamination of their drinking water due to natural gas exploration and drilling operations conducted by the company in Horseheads, N.Y. As a result of the contamination, the complaint alleges that the property values for homes owned by the nine families have been reduced and the families' health has been jeopardized. The lawsuit was filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Chemung County.

According to the complaint, Anschutz Exploration Corp. owns two natural gas wells that were drilled almost 10,000 ft vertically and then horizontally into New York's Trenton Black River shale formation, which is roughly twice as deep as the Marcellus shale. The lawsuit alleges that the company was negligent in its drilling, construction and operation of the gas wells and that as a result of this negligence, the plaintiffs' water supplies became contaminated, thereby exposing plaintiffs, their families and their properties to combustible gases and toxic chemicals.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the cost of future health monitoring for the residents. This is the first case brought in the state of New York for groundwater contamination caused by natural gas drilling.

"This is a warning to all gas drillers in the great state of New York that the health and safety of the residents and the environment must be placed ahead of corporate profits," said Senior Partner Marc Bern.

The suit was filed during a tenuous time in New York as the executive order issued by Gov. Patterson prohibiting horizontal hydraulic fracturing is scheduled to expire on July 1. Napoli Bern Ripka represents many families and individuals throughout the country who are suffering from the effects of natural gas drilling and fracking, including many residents of Dimock, Pa., whose story was highlighted in the Academy Award-nominated film "Gasland."