If you are not familiar with FrackWatergate read: What’s in Your Water? Don’t ask the PA-DEP .
Too many questions have gone unasked and/or unanswered. I’m going to be asking a few of those questions.
According to the Pennsylvania Department Of Environmental Protection document: PA-DEP Recommended Basic Oil and Gas Pre-Drill Parameters , the PA DEP has developed the following list of parameters that are recommended for homeowners who wish to have their private well tested.
Note the “starred” and bold items recommended as a MINIMUM testing: pH, Residue – Filterable (TDS), Iron, Manganese, Sodium, Ethane, and Methane. (TDS – Total Dissolved Solids).
Buried in the first paragraph on the document the PA DEP states “Additionally, while it is not recommended, if a homeowner wishes to test for less than the recommended list, the minimum parameters that should be analyzed for are printed in bold in the table below.”
QUESTION: If the DEP is recommending PRE-DRILL testing by homeowners to test for these parameters, why does the DEP want some of them omitted from the reports the DEP receives? The purpose of the a PRE-DRILL test is to establish a least a baseline as to the condition of the existing water, with the assumption that any POST-DRILL tests which show the elevation or sudden appearance of the listed parameters would point to drilling as a possible cause. Why does DEP think a “half-a-report” is good enough?
Per: DEP responds to water testing allegations | Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | By Rachel Morgan Shalereporter.com shalereporter.com
In a letter to White Tuesday, Krancer defended the DEP’s practice: “The code used to report tested parameters for an investigation of potential impact to a water supply from oil and gas operations was first developed in 1991 and has been used consistently and successfully for decades.”
Using these suite codes, the DEP in one case tested for 24 contaminants but listed only eight of those in the report given to a resident who requested the analysis. Those substances were barium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium and strontium.
The same report did not include results for silver, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, nickel, silicon, lithium, molybdenum, tin, titanium, vanadium, zinc and boron because, Krancer wrote, the levels of these additional metals were “extremely low” in this particular case.
Ok, so the “report” didn’t include silver, aluminum, beryllium etc. – but the lab tested for them according to EPA Approved Standards. Even if they were “extremely low”, why not include them in the report? The lab is only required to actually report what is specified in the “Suite Code”, so if these contaminants were at high levels would they have been included in the report?
QUESTION: If the Lab is testing according to EPA APPROVED STANDARDS already, what is gained by only reporting half of what is found?
PA-DEP Secretary Krancer also points out the “suites” were developed in 1991, and “revised” after the Marcellus Shale Boom began.
Krancer also said: “The code used to report tested parameters for an investigation of potential impact to a water supply from oil and gas operations was first developed in 1991 and has been used consistently and successfully for decades.”
Suite Code 946 is an updated code, developed in 2010, he said. But Kiskadden’s water was tested twice using Suite Code 942, the older code.
QUESTIONS: What were the revisions? Who did the revisions? Why are contaminants known to be associated with natural gas drilling still omitted from the reports even as the lab tests for them? Why are outdated codes (942) still being used?
The BIG QUESTIONS not being asked are:
- Who benefits from a half-report? The homeowner certainly doesn’t.
- How many homeowners “settled” based on a DEP half-report? Do they have reason to “revisit” the settlement or are the SOL?
- How many homeowners are drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing in water the DEP half-report says is safe?
- Should homeowners trust the DEP to protect the “environment”? And which environment? The air, land and water or the business environment?
©2012 by Dory Hippauf