Leaking wastewater impoundments from unconventional natural gas development have already contaminated groundwater in Pennsylvania's Washington County.
Now, another leaking impoundment in Westmoreland County has contaminated drinking water for at least three homes, according to state officials.
The use of these impoundments is a severe risk - to soil and groundwater, to public health, and to the families whose life savings may be be embodied in the homes that suddenly lose most, if not all, of their value when their drinking water wells become contaminated. These impoundments also presents severe risk to company bottom lines.
There's no excuse for Pennsylvania failing to ban them and mandating closed-loop, closed container systems.
As I asked three weeks ago, how many more contamination incidents will state regulators tolerate? How many more family tragedies will they tolerate?
And how many more of these completely avoidable pollution incidents will the citizens of Pennsylvania tolerate?
September 18, 2014 update: DEP has issued the largest penalty ever on a shale gas driller for these impoundment violations. Bravo, DEP. Still, it's not enough. The "higher benchmark" referred to in the report is inadequate. Impoundments should be banned. Period.