Why don't we know how many drinking water sources have been harmed by natural gas operations?
How many drinking water sources have been harmed by oil or gas operations? According to a recent report from Pennsylvania, no one knows in that state. This alarming article quotes an environmental engineer as estimating that as many as 50 homes in Bradford County, Pennsylvania alone are currently getting replacement water supplies provided by gas companies.
But no one knows the real number, and here's why: the article explains that companies often will not replace a homeowner's contaminated water unless the homeowner signs a document promising not to tell anyone about the contamination. Therefore, we don't really know how many people have contaminated water because many cases have been kept secret.
This makes it impossible for public agencies charged with protecting public health and safety to have adequate data to understand the full health and environmental impacts of oil and gas operations.
According to the article, Pennsylvania is considering a new rule that will require oil and gas companies to notify the state's Department of Environmental Protection within 24 hours of receiving a complaint about contaminated drinking water. This rule should be in place everywhere in the country.