Pennsylvania Report Left Out Poisons In Drinking Water Near Fracking Site by Michael Kelley, November 3, 2012, Business Insider Law & Order
Pennsylvania officials didn’t report toxic metals found in drinking water from a private well near a natural gas drilling site, according to legal documents and reported by Jon Hurdle of The New York Times reports. The omissions raise questions about the Pennsylvania government’s connection to the oil and gas industry, which has a vested interest in the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale beneath Pennsylvania and three other states.
Seven plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against companies serving the gas industry that claims natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within a mile of their homes in southwestern Pennsylvania contaminated their drinking water and caused serious illnesses. Toxicology tests on the plaintiffs found the presence of toluene, benzene and arsenic in their bodies, according to the complaint. Toluene and benzene, commonly used in fracking, are called BTEX compounds and are listed as contaminants in the Safe Drinking Water Act. Benzene and arsenic are known human carcinogens.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection told the Times that oil and gas division officials only wanted to see the results they deemed relevant to determining whether drinking water was being contaminated, and that the remaining metals were below federal standards or had no standards attached to them.
Kendra Smith, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, countered that some of the 14 metals not reported in her client’s tests have already been identified by industry studies as contaminants in water produced from oil and gas operations. Smith told the Times that it could only be a “deliberate procedure” by the oil and gas division and the Bureau of Laboratories “to withhold critical water testing results.” [Emphasis added]