National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has filed an appeal before Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board, after the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ruled that gas drilling operations did not contaminate a Pennsylvania couple’s drinking water supply. The appeal alleges that the DEP’s determination is arbitrary, and not based on any supporting scientific data or evidence.
According to the appeal, the DEP’s determination is unclear about where the water samples were collected and it omits such basic information as the sample collector’s name, the number of samples taken, and how the samples were collected and transported for testing. The appeal also alleges that the DEP did not disclose the testing method; offered results for only a limited number of contaminants; and did not say whether the samples were tested for other contaminants. The determination contained no details about contamination levels of public water sources in the region prior to the drilling .
The appeal requests that the Environmental Hearing Board order the DEP to investigate to determine whether the plaintiffs’ water supply was harmed by the gas well drilling (fracking). Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a drilling technique in which fluid under pressure is injected into shale to break apart the rock and release oil and natural gas. Fracking is controversial because of the risks of air and water contamination and for the demands it places on local water supplies. A number of localities across the country have declared moratoriums on fracking and there is ongoing litigation in state and federal courts.
Pennsylvania environmental regulators determined that oil and gas development damaged the water supplies for at least 161 Pennsylvania homes, farms, churches and businesses between 2008 and the fall of 2012. Data was taken from nearly 1,000 letters and enforcement orders written by Department of Environmental Protection officials, according to a May 19, 2013, report in the (Scranton) Times-Tribune.