NPR logo

Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127887773/127887751" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies

Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies

Drilling Poses Risk To Pennsylvania Water Supplies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127887773/127887751" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Two years ago, Pennsylvania opened the door to a natural gas drilling technique that's caused controversy in some Western states. At the time, environmentalists worried that high-volume hydrofracking could contaminate water supplies, but the state and industry insisted that fracking was safe. Now, after a spate of accidents, Pennsylvania regulators are tightening up the rules governing fracking.

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.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.