Dimock residents, Cabot settle, Residents had alleged that their drinking water was contaminated by gas driller

Dimock residents, Cabot settle, Residents had alleged that their drinking water was contaminated by gas driller by Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press, August 16, 2012, Times Leader
Residents of Dimock Township in Susquehanna County who say their well water was poisoned by a gas driller are nearing a settlement of their long-running and highly contentious federal lawsuit. Court documents filed this week indicate that the residents have agreed to a confidential settlement with Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. Dimock became a flashpoint in the national debate over gas drilling and a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after residents claimed in 2009 that Cabot polluted their water supply with methane gas and toxic chemicals and made some of them violently ill. Cabot denied responsibility. Federal environmental regulators tested the aquifer this year and found the water in Dimock is safe to drink, a conclusion disputed by residents who refuse to use their wells. State environmental regulators previously determined that Cabot contaminated the aquifer underneath homes along Carter Road in Dimock with explosive levels of methane, although they later determined the company had met its obligations under a consent agreement and allowed Cabot to stop delivering bulk and bottled water last fall. Cabot’s lawyers approached the plaintiffs in May and June with offers to settle, according to a document filed Monday in federal court. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said in the document they expect the settlement money to be distributed within 60 days. The names of the settling plaintiffs were blacked out, and the overall amount of the settlement was not disclosed. Cabot’s chief executive, Dan O. Dinges, told investors on July 25 that the company had verbal agreements with 32 of 36 Dimock households and was continuing to negotiate with the others.

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