The Town of Dimock, Pennsylvania prevailed against oil and gas magnate Coterra, winning a $16.29M settlement in its fracking-related contaminated water claim.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the agreement, by which Coterra Energy will invest the settlement into the construction of new water facilities for the Town of Dimock. Dimock has suffered through contaminated water since 2008 when what was once dairy farms became the site for fracking by Cabot Oil and Gas, owned by Coterra.
“More than a decade waiting for a permanent plan for clean drinking water is far too long.” said Shapiro.
In his statement, he continued, “We are here today because fundamentally, Pennsylvanians have a right to clean air and pure water. And for too long, the good people of Dimock have waited to have the clean water that our constitution promises restored to them in their homes and throughout our community.”
Many people from Dimock began leasing their land to the company for drilling in 2008. They discovered years later that the gas company’s claims that their processes were safe were wrong. The town’s water supply became unusable due to great concentrations of methane and other metals.
Dimock rose to fame with the documentary “Gasland.”
In the documentary, residents of the town were shown putting a match to their tap water and watching it going up in flames. With such shocking examples in the Emmy award-winning documentary, it’s no surprise that the people of Dimock had to resort to bottled water and water obtained from local creeks. Residents who tried to swim or bathe in local water ended up with headaches and rashes.
With the settlement, Pennsylvania American Water intends to create a public groundwater system. Two water wells will be drilled and a treatment plant will be constructed. The plant will remove all contaminants, especially the flammable ones, before pumping the water to Dimock homes.
Dan Rickard, the utility’s engineering manager at the organization, announced in a statement, “Pennsylvania American Water is pleased it had the opportunity to partner with the Attorney General’s office to develop a safe drinking water solution for the residents of Dimock, who like all of us, deserve access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable drinking water.”
Not all residents are content with the decision. Victoria Switzer, an ex-schoolteacher, has decided to leave Pennsylvania for good with her husband. Through her research, she discovered that even with the water contamination problem resolved, living in the shadow of the oil and gas industry is a ticking time bomb.
She said in an email, “Living in a shale field is a constant worry. If you take the time to educate yourself with peer-reviewed health and safety reports, violations, and well integrity reports, you realize that people cannot live in the shadow of drilling rigs or next to toxic impoundments or storage tanks.” However, unfortunately, many of our citizens do live and raise families in this shadow across the country.
Like many other oil and gas companies, Coterra repeatedly denied it was at any fault. But the studies keep coming in, all connecting the fracking industry with a plethora of health defects, most notably cancer.
Due to its notoriety, this settlement can only be a good thing, both for those in Dimock, who will now have access to clean water, but also to those across the country living in the great shadow of the hydraulic fracturing industry.