Washington County families sue over fracking, water testing

Washington County families sue over fracking, water testing by Don Hopey, May 26, 2012, Pittsburg Post-Gazette
Three Washington County families claim in a lawsuit that they face serious health problems, including a heightened risk of cancer, due to exposure to toxic spills, leaks and air pollutants from a Range Resources Marcellus Shale gas site. The 182-page lawsuit, filed Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court, alleges that Range and two commercial water testing laboratories, Microbac Laboratories Inc. and Test America, conspired to produce fraudulent test reports that misrepresented the families’ well water as good and contributed to their exposure to hazardous chemicals and a multitude of health problems. Filed by attorneys John and Kendra Smith, the lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and is based on information contained in hundreds of pages of water test reports and documents, many subpoenaed from Range and other defendants. … According to the lawsuit, Range Resources knew its shale gas development operation on the Yeager farm property on McAdams Road in Amwell had contaminated the groundwater with chemicals from a leaking drilling waste pit and a 3 million-gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid flowback impoundment as early as November 2010. But, the suit states, the company told the plaintiffs that tests showed their well water was safe to drink, shower and bathe in, cook with, and provide to farm animals and pets. Some of those animals were sickened, and some died. The suit says the plaintiffs developed health problems that included nose bleeds, headaches and dizziness, skin rashes, ear infections, nausea, and numbness in extremities. “It’s unfortunate that our clients had no choice but to file a civil action due to damage not only caused to their water and property, but to their health,” said Mr. Smith in a written response to a request for comment. “Had the [state Department of Environmental Protection] protected these people, it may have been a different outcome.”

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