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Thursday, August 28, 2014

More groundwater contamination in SWPA from fracking wastewater impoundments - UPDATED

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.


  1. Although most people would blame the Oil and gas companies doing the fracking for the problem, I would place the blame squarely on the Pennsylvania DEP for lack of oversight and commitment to making sure these drillers don't poison us with these ridiculously vulnerable impoundments

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Companies use these impoundments (not all do) because they're cheap - until they leak and cleanup costs ensue. And that ignores the fact that they pose other threats to public health from volatilizing chemicals.

    As for DEP, their policies reflect those of the current administration. That is where the fault lies, not on the front lines. Plus, their budget has been savaged, and their ability to enforce existing (inadequate) rules is compromised. See

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