Dimock, Pennsylvania: A community paying the price for natural gas production with hydraulic fracturing fluid spills

There were three significant spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid at the same natural gas well pad in Dimock over the past week. These spills, totaling over 8,000 gallons, polluted wetlands and a creek, killing fish. They violated four state laws. Astonishingly enough, the first two spills happened in the same day. Was the operation shut down after the first spill? No. Was it shut down after the second spill? No.

Dimock has certainly paid its dues. Last month I wrote that Dimock has already been the site of the explosion of a residential water well and contamination of several other water wells, in addition to two large diesel fuel spills, torn pit liners and other leaks. All of these incidents were associated with drilling conducted by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. In July, a Pennsylvania state official said: "Cabot has definitely had their share of problems out there. Some of them is just being a little bit careless... or sloppy, or maybe a little bit of bad luck too."

The hydraulic fracturing fluid that spilled, which appears to have been supplied by Halliburton, is a potential carcinogen and can cause central nervous system impacts.

Although fish were killed, according to a Cabot spokesperson, ".... the mixture that spilled is 99.5 percent freshwater," and "....is not dangerous or hazardous." Sound familiar?  Last month I wrote about a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluids in Louisiana, also said to be more than 99% water, yet 17 cattle died almost immediately upon drinking the fluid. Industry says that "the concentration of these elements is far below the levels necessary to pose a threat." Does anyone believe that?

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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