Data from the federal EPA released this afternoon suggests nagging signs of problems with Dimock water possibly related to drilling activities, but nothing that federal officials feel requires “immediate action.”
In 324 pages of lab data released this afternoon, results from 71 samples were highlighted in yellow marker as flags for water with traces of contaminants near or above “action levels.” Action levels do not equal heath threats, according to an EPA policy document. Rather, they “enable EPA to quickly identify the analytical lab data results that warrant further scientific review.” In the case of the Dimock water, some of the samples that showed pollution are not immediate health threats because they have already been taken off line.
The highlighted samples showed elevated levels of sodium, methane, arsenic, chromium, and lithium, all of which are associated with drilling. The results include samples from 20 wells taken in January and February. Results from 30 more homes are still being analyzed. The EPA began the federal investigation in January in the small northern Pennsylvania Town, which has become an iconic of a national controversy over the merits and hazards of an on onshore drilling boom enabled by high volume hydraulic fracturing, a process that allows operators to extract oil and gas from bedrock by injecting it with pressurized chemical solution.
“This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action,” Roy Senaca said in a short email announcing the results. “EPA remains committed to providing Dimock residents with the best available data and information on the quality of drinking water as expeditiously as possible.”
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