AP: Lawyers demand water for tainted Pa. town

By Michael Rubinkam

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 4 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Krancer's comments in Erie were reported by the Erie Times-News.

Kunkle, the residents' attorney, contended that state officials have concluded Cabot's profits "are more important than the constitutional right to pure water of the Commonwealth's residents." He said the Cabot treatment systems are ineffective and that his clients should not be forced to choose between drinking questionable "treated water" and paying $100 per day for delivery of potable water.

"Cabot and its representatives behave as if they are doing these undeserving people a favor with offers of a whole-house treatment system and nominal monetary payments," Kunkle wrote to the agency. "Cabot has not provided a 'permanent solution' to the problem they created and the only losers here are the residents of the Dimock/Carter Road Area and the community."

He said that tests have detected elevated levels of aluminum, iron, manganese and toluene in some of his clients' wells. The first three can affect the taste, smell and color of water but do not generally pose a health hazard. Toluene is a chemical found in drilling fluids, but Cabot has said it does not use it.

Several other worrisome substances were found at lower levels, the attorney said, including two chemicals associated with natural gas drilling: Bis (2-Ethylhexyl) adipate and Bis (2-Ehylhexyl) phthalate.

Dimock's aquifer is also still laced with methane, he wrote.

Methane is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas commonly found in Pennsylvania groundwater. Sources include swamps, landfills, coal mines and gas wells. Methane is not known to be harmful to ingest, but at high concentrations it's flammable and can lead to asphyxiation.

Cabot has said many of the substances detected in the residents' water are naturally occurring. Kunkle said that is misleading because those substances were safely ensconced thousands of feet below Dimock's aquifer before they were brought to the surface by Cabot's drilling activities.

It's not clear whether the attorneys will take formal legal action if DEP refuses to reverse its decision. Kunkle declined Friday to comment on the letter, which was sent to Scott Perry, chief of DEP's oil and gas program.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Shawn Garvin, chief of EPA's regional office in Philadelphia, also received copies.

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