Article courtesy of Luke Johnson | August 28, 2014 | Upstream Online | Shared as educational material
The contamination apparently stemmed from a leaky impoundment, a treated-water storage facility used to supply hydraulic fracturing jobs on WPX’s Kalp well pad near Stahlstown, Westmoreland County.
The DEP order came after an investigation determined that the drinking water of octogenarians Ken and Mildred Geary contained higher concentrations of chloride, barium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and strontium than it did before the Kalp drilling began in November 2011.
Previous investigations had found contaminated drinking water on the properties of two of the Gearys’ neighbours. At least one of them is reportedly suing WPX for diminished property value as a result of the contamination.
“DEP has determined that WPX’s activity has impacted these water supplies and have issued a unilateral order to permanently replace the three water supplies,” the agency said in a statement.
“If WPX fails to comply with this order, it will result in enforcement actions, which could include an immediate permitting freeze until the issue is addressed.”
WPX has 30 days from the time of the order to appeal. In a statement, the company did not indicate whether it plans to appeal the ruling.
“As we learned of the water concern from three of our neighbours individually, we began working with each family and the DEP to provide fresh water for their use at our expense, and began an investigation with the DEP,” the company said in a statement.
“We understand the process can be lengthy as there is litigation and scientific testing involved, and we know this can be frustrating, but at no time were the families without fresh water once we learned of their situations.”
WPX said it will continue to provide fresh water to the three families, with a goal of “provid(ing) a permanent water solution”.
The company said tests “show the water quality is improving”
“The water testing shows there have only been issues of odour, taste and visual appeal; at no time were the families facing a health impact concern,” according to WPX.
DEP added that while WPX has provided the families with bottled water and other fresh water sources, “it’s not a replacement for clean running water in the home”.