Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From member station WNYC in New York, Ilya Marritz reports.
ILYA MARRITZ: For example, Norma Fiorentino's private water well, New Year's day 2009, the retired nurse returned home from a trip and found a crater where her water well had once been.
NORMA FIORENTINO: It was, like, humongous. And the tap to the well, which was probably thousands of pounds, had blown in three pieces and was laying helter skelter.
MARRITZ: And there are other problems that keep regulators awake at night. John Hanger is Pennsylvania's secretary of environmental protection.
JOHN HANGER: Gas drilling wastewater is exceptionally polluted. It's nasty, nasty stuff.
MARRITZ: Now, Hangar's agency is proposing a new rule to force companies to disclose what chemicals they use for fracking and how much. Industry people say those are trade secrets. Nonsense, says Secretary Hanger.
HANGER: The public's right to know should trump the business need of a company to keep something a secret.
MARRITZ: Ray Walker is vice president with Range Resources and chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group. He says he welcomes stricter standards and they could even be good for the bottom line.
RAY WALKER: My mother told me, and I'm sure your mother told you, it's always better and cheaper to do it right the first time.
MARRITZ: Back in the hilly terrain around Dimock, 14 families are suing Cabot Energy over water contamination. Norma Fiorentino is part of the suit, so is Ron Carter, a retired factory worker.
RON CARTER: They thought they'd come in here and we're a bunch of hillbillies who didn't know any better. I guess, maybe we were, but it didn't take us long to learn.
MARRITZ: For NPR News, I'm Ilya Marritz.
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