Dimock’s ‘Gasland’ in Pennsylvania plans new pipeline after 14 years without safe drinking water

A new water line will provide what residents of a rural Pennsylvania community haven’t had in 14 years – a reliable, clean drinking water supply – after a public utility company announced Tuesday released the first details of a plan to mitigate the damage caused by an accused gas driller.

The small intersection in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 15 miles (24 km) from the New York state line, gained national attention after residents filmed people burning tap water in the documentary. won the 2010 Emmy Award for “Gasland”.

Pennsylvania American Water said it plans to drill two wells – what it calls a “public groundwater system” – and build a treatment plant that will remove any contaminants from the water before it can be drained. water to about 20 houses in Dimock, the site of one of the most notorious pollution cases ever emerged from the drilling and fracking boom of the United States.

“Pennsylvania American Water is thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the Attorney General’s office to develop a safe drinking water solution for Dimock residents who, like all of us, deserve access to clean drinking water. , safe, reliable and affordable,” Dan Rickard, the utility’s technical director, said in a statement.

Dimock residents were briefed on the plan Monday night at a meeting with Pennsylvania American Water and senior officials in the state attorney general’s office, which is pursuing criminal charges against the company. The drill was blamed for polluting Dimock’s aquifer.

Residents declined to comment on Monday night as they left the meeting at a high school near Dimock, saying they had been instructed by a prosecutor not to speak.

Jacklin Rhoads, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement Tuesday: “Our office remains focused on using its limited tools to restore clean drinking water to resident of Dimock. “Yesterday, our attorneys, along with Pennsylvania American Water, updated affected residents on the status of the case and extensive independent research was conducted with one goal — the best way to provide provide clean water to their homes.”

More detailed information about the plumbing scheme, including cost and whether drillers, Coterra Energy Inc., which will bear the financial burden as part of any settlement of the criminal case, was not announced Tuesday.

Dimock’s residents have used bottled water, commercially purchased bulk water and even water from creeks and fountains, saying they don’t trust the water from their wells.

The state attorney general’s office joined in June 2020, criminal prosecution against the old Cape Town Oil & Gas Corp. After a grand jury investigation found that the company failed to repair faulty gas wells that leaked flammable methane into the potable water supply in Dimock and surrounding communities.

Cabot, recently merged with Denver-based Cimarex Energy Co. to form a new company, Coterra Energy Inc., which has long maintained people’s domestic gas is natural. It faces a total of 15 counts, most of which are felony, including illegal discharge of industrial waste and illegal conduct under the state’s Clean Stream Law.

The company – the largest driller in the nation’s No. 2 natural gas-producing state – said on Tuesday that it was working to settle criminal charges.

“Coterra remains committed to reaching a friendly solution with the Attorney General’s Office. “We continue to work toward a solution that works and benefits the community and the landowner,” said George Stark, a company spokesman.

Pennsylvania American, meanwhile, joined the state’s canceled 2010 effort to connect Dimock’s residents to an existing municipal water system about 6 miles (9.6 km) away.

A dozen years ago, state environmental regulators secured nearly $12 million in funding for the project — and pledged to sue Cabot to recover the money — but were forced to back down in the face of a legal threat. management from the company and local officials, who called it a hoax. Instead, Cabot agreed to pay residents a total of $4.1 million and install individual water treatment systems.

But some residents say these systems never work properly, forcing them to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking, as well as receive larger volumes of water for bathing, washing dishes and flushing toilets. born. Those same residents flatly refuse the offer by the attorney general’s office last December that Cabot pay for the installation of new treatment systems.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro won this month’s gubernatorial election and will take office in January.

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