DEP Gives Cabot Oil & Gas 60 Days to Implement Fix to Impacted Water Supplies

Company Required to Continue Providing Water Supplies in Interim May Resume Drilling Outside Affected Area

MEADVILLE — The Department of Environmental Protection this week gave Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. 60 days to permanently fix the water supplies that were affected by the company’s natural gas drilling operations in Dimock, Susquehanna County.

The directive is part of a modified consent order and agreement between the agency and the company that requires Cabot to continue providing temporary water services until the permanent solution can be implemented.

The 60-day timetable represents an extension that was made necessary when residents in the affected area objected to the company’s previous proposal to fix the water contamination issue.

“This week’s modification to the consent order and agreement gives us more time to find a water supply solution that will address the needs and concerns of residents,” said DEP Secretary John Hanger. “Our goal is to find a permanent solution that will be agreeable to all parties.”

In April 2010, DEP and Cabot entered into a modification of the original consent order and agreement that was executed in November 2009. One of the provisions required whole-house water treatment systems to be installed in 14 homes as a permanent water supply resolution.

After the document was signed, several of those residents expressed dissatisfaction with whole-house treatment systems. DEP met with a number of them in May to discuss their concerns.

Due to the resident reaction, Cabot requested an extension of the consent order and agreement time frame to install a permanent solution. DEP agreed to delay enforcement of that provision to allow for additional discussions with residents.  Meanwhile, several residents in the affected area appealed the April modification to the consent order and agreement to the Environmental Hearing Board.

Also in April, DEP suspended its review of Cabot’s pending permit applications for new drilling activities statewide until the company fulfilled its obligations to plug and repair the wells that caused the gas migration, which caused the water contamination.

This week’s modification acknowledges Cabot’s progress to date under the earlier agreement. In particular, Cabot has plugged three gas wells, as required, and has made repairs to another well. As a result, DEP will resume reviewing Cabot applications only for permits to drill gas wells outside of the affected area in Dimock Township.

Except for the permanent water supply and permit application review provisions, all other terms and conditions of the November 2009 consent order and agreement and April 2010 modification remain in effect, including the restrictions on drilling and hydrofracturing within the affected area.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. is headquartered in Houston, Tex. with a mailing address in Pittsburgh.

For more information on oil and gas wells, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Oil and gas.


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