Thursday, October 14, 2010

REPORT: McKean County PA: 8% of 200 wells contaminated

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From: William Huston <>
Date: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 10:36 PM
Subject: McKean County PA: 8% of 200 wells contaminated

REPORT: McKean County PA: 8% of 200 wells contaminated.

Sandy Podulka shows that this study published at
has been redacted to minimize the importance of this study.

Who was just telling me that Penn State has been corrupted
on the gas drilling issue and cannot be trusted?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Peter Hudiburg 
Date: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 9:36 PM
Subject: Fw: PA Water Well data 8% of 200 wells contaminated
Cc: Peter Hudiburg

----- Original Message -----
From: Sandy Podulka
To: Peter Hudiburg
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 3:51 PM
Subject: PA Water Well data 8% of 200 wells contaminated

Hi Peter,

        I think this is the study referred to--by Coop Ext, not DEP. We have it linked on our website (tcgasmap), but the link has been changed. I tracked the study down--have never seen it directly, but it has been referred to in various publications out of our buddies at Penn State. Interesting, I see that it now has been edited and qualified to change the meaning since I was first reading it--and I first saw it less than a year ago (and it is a 2007 study). So, somebody went back and edited to make is sound less important. When I saw it, I knew it had been edited. But, when I copied out of the pdf file (link at law.psu given below) you can see that part of it came out with a cross-through--exactly the part I recognized as being edited. So, I'm not just paranoid. I'd love to talk to the original authors and find out how the study was actually carried out--without spin. Maybe somebody at Otsego2000 would like to track them down?  There is potentially good info here, but I'm about to go out of town.


Clark, J., B. R. Swistock, and S. Clemens. 2007. Unpublished data collected from 200 private water wells in McKean County, noted in:    <=== this is the original link that has now been changed
This 2007 Penn State Cooperative Extension study of 200 water wells near oil and gas wells found 8% contaminated. <==I wrote this in the past
A study by McKean County Cooperative Extension and Penn State University in 2007 looked at water quality in 200 private water wells in an area that has undergone extensive oil and gas well drilling for several decades. About three percent of these private water wells exceeded drinking water standards for total dissolved solids, barium or chloride (three of the most likely water pollutants from gas well drilling). Another five percent of these private wells had elevated levels of at least one of these pollutants that could be tied to gas well drilling.
It is important to note that this study did not attempt to differentiate between effects from past versus current gas well drilling. Given the changes and strengthening of regulations on gas well drilling that occurred in the mid 1980's, it is likely that most of the groundwater contamination found in McKean County occurred from past drilling practices. Still, these results point to the importance of remaining vigilant in properly testing and monitoring private water supplies near gas wells using

At 01:01 PM 10/13/2010, you wrote:
I haven't seen the study so I probably don't know what I'm talking about but
I wonder if the study came up with that percentage for all wells or just for
gas wells close to water wells. If the overall risk of gas wells
contaminating water wells were 8% and the risk to nearby water wells is
higher (and we know it is) then the percentage of risk to nearby wells would
be higher than 8%.

But maybe the study looked at only nearby wells in which case how near is


----- Original Message -----
From: "Adrian/Kuzminski"
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:04 PM
Subject: Re: Probability vs Risk???

> The risk factor has to be put into context. We would not remotely tolerate
> even the seemingly low risk factor of 1.6% in automobile driving or
> airplane
> flights. We (and our insurance companies) would not accept having an
> accident every 60th or so trip out of our driveways, let along having a
> plane crash every 60 or so flights. Why should we tolerate it for our
> drinking water?
> Be careful, though. The industry will say, if they have to, that we can
> sacrifice 3% or even 8% or more of some drinking water sources (not all
> sources, only those in the fracking zones) is order to keep the lights on.
> A
> lot of people away from the fracking zones -- who don't live in
> "Gasland" --
> might buy this kind of collateral damage to others to get what they need.
> We
> do it all the time as a society, e.g., the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
> for
> oil.
> The high failure rate of well pollution is very important, but it has to
> be
> part of a larger, cumulative measure of impacts. If we look at emissions,
> infrastructure, property values, tax base, employment, effects on other
> industries, etc. etc. a compelling case can be made against fracking. But
> it's hard to make the case on a single point, and dangerous to try to do
> so.
> The industry would have us think piecemeal about this; what they cannot
> tolerate is a holistic approach.
> See the submission to the EPA by Sustainable Otsego, available at
> Click on 'EPA Documents."
> A.
> On 10/13/10 9:48 AM, "Richard Averett" wrote:
>> A small study (200 private wells) by the DEP in PA found that 3% were
>> significantly impacted by gas drilling in the area, with another 5%
>> showing
>> moderate impact.
>> Taken together, this preliminary investigation reveals about an 8%
>> (roughly
>> 1 in 12) chance that a private well will be negatively impacted by nearby
>> gas drilling.  The actual occurrence may be higher, or it may be lower.
>> Only further study of this phenomenon will reveal the actual incidence of
>> well contamination by gas drilling.
>> Do not expect any gas industry money to be used for such
>> purposes.although
>> it should.
>>   _____
>> Subject: [sustainableotsego] Probability vs Risk???
>> While we talk about "risk" , the pro-drilling folks talk about
>> "probability".  One of the latest was the statistic they gave in a news
>> piece that only 30 of 1900 wells drilled had problems (~ 1.6%).  The
>> piece
>> from the Houston Business Journal follows the same pattern.  Can we
>> banter
>> about the difference between probability and risk. What's the definition
>> of
>> each? How can we explain this difference to someone who's unwilling to
>> "listen"?  How do we make it clear that while the probability might be
>> small, the potential damage (what we call risk) might be catastrophic?
>> Seems
>> to me that this might be something to include in one of the outreach
>> pieces.
>> ---Martha

William Huston  
Binghamton NY             Phone: 607-321-7846

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