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BREAKING: Oil & Gas Drilling Impacts Public Drinking Water Supplies in Potter County, PA

BREAKING: Oil & Gas Drilling Impacts Public Drinking Water Supplies in Potter County, PA

BREAKING: Two public drinking water systems have been impacted and at least five private water supplies contaminated due to ongoing pollution being caused by a natural gas fracking operation of JKLM Energy in Potter County, Pennsylvania. An emergency public meeting occurred at  4PM at the Gunzburger Building in downtown Coudersport. “It’s worse than we thought,” stated one local official who wishes to remain anonymous.

Early this morning, September 24th, Public Herald confirmed from local officials after receiving an anonymous tip that Coudersport Boro Water System took its “east” drinking water source offline on Wednesday in order to “keep the public safe” after chemicals typically used for fracking infiltrated shallow and subsurface groundwater aquifers used for the public water supply.

The water contamination has been sourced to the Reese Hollow #118 shale gas well, aimed for the Utica formation, where JKLM began drilling operations on August 28, 2015 according to Pennsylvania oil and gas regulator, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, which maintains its own public water supply serving the hospital, a nursing home and several residential properties in the surrounding village, has also stopped using its water and switched to a backup water source provided by Coudersport Borough Water Authority. Phone calls to the hospital were not returned.

Calls to DEP confirmed that problems at the Reese Hollow site began September 18th and that the department is aware of problems. However, DEP has informed local residents that any additional complaints should be called in to JKLM Energy. “The company is responsible, so they’ll handle your problems,” DEP field staff Matt Nuff told one resident over the phone.

Public Herald has published extensively about the DEP’s negligence in allowing fracking companies handle their own water contamination investigations. Last week, Public Herald published a 30-month investigation that found nine ways DEP keeps water pollution related to fracking “off the books,” leaving residents to fend for themselves. The report includes the release of 2,309 DEP investigation files which are mapped my county and township at PublicFiles.org.

Potter County Fracking Complaint Map

potter_county_complaint_map

According to residents and Boro officials, the Boro has not informed local water consumers about the contamination or any changes made to the public water supply. “We’re waiting for test results to inform the public,” Boro Manager Beverly Morris told one resident.

Charles Cole Hospital is a critical access and nonprofit hospital that signed a lease to frack on hospital property in early 2015. The hospital and its board made no public statements regarding the potential environmental and public health risks associated with unconventional horizontal, high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking.

JKLM Energy is a young company based in Sewickley whose largest shareholder, Terry Pegula, sold the former East Resources for $4.6 billion and then purchased the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. East Resources operations in 2010 led to the quarantine of cattle after contamination in northcentral Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania Land Trust Association did a study on the environmental impact of natural gas drilling and found that East Resources Management LLC ranked first among about 45 drillers cited for violations during that period, with 138 violations at 140 wells.”

Calls to DEP confirmed that problems began September 18th and that the department is aware of problems. However, DEP has informed local residents that any additional complaints should be called in to JKLM Energy. “The company is responsible, so they’ll handle any problems,” DEP field staff Matt Nuff told one resident over the phone.

Indeed, Public Herald has published extensively about the DEP’s negligence in allowing fracking companies handle their own water contamination investigations. Last week, Public Herald published a 30-month investigation that found nine ways DEP keeps water pollution related to fracking “off the books,” leaving residents to fend for themselves. The report includes the release of 2,309 DEP investigation files which are mapped my county and township at PublicFiles.org.

DEP maintains 24 hr. phone for dispatching response personnel to emergency and incidents. To report an incident in Potter County, residents can call DEP Northcentral at 570-327-3636.

Melissa Troutman
Melissa Troutman

Melissa Troutman is a journalist, writer and vocal artist. She began investigating shale gas extraction in 2010 as a newspaper reporter in her hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania before co-founding the investigative news nonprofit Public Herald, where she now serves as Executive Director. Melissa co-wrote, -directed and -edited the documentary Triple Divide (2013), which she also narrates with award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo. Follow her on twitter @melissat22.

 

Source: Public Herald

By: Melissa Troutman, Executive Director, Public Herald

this story is part of an ongoing report and will be updated frequently

LINK: http://publicherald.org/breaking-oil-gas-drilling-impacts-public-drinking-water-supplies-in-potter-county/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+publicherald+%28Public+Herald%29

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