ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency abruptly changed its mind Saturday about delivering fresh water to residents of a northeastern Pennsylvania village where residential wells were found to be tainted by a natural gas drilling operation.
Only 24 hours after promising them water, EPA officials informed residents of Dimock that a tanker truck wouldn’t be coming after all. The about-face left residents furious, confused and let down – and, once again, scrambling for water for bathing, washing dishes and flushing toilets.
Agency officials would not explain why they reneged on their promise, or say whether water would be delivered at some point.
It’s not clear how many wells in the rural community of Dimock Township were affected by the drilling. The state has found that at least 18 residential water wells were polluted.
Eleven families who sued Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. expected water from the EPA to arrive either Friday or Saturday. They say they have been without a reliable source of water since Cabot won permission from state environmental regulators to halt deliveries more than a month ago.
Cabot, which was banned in 2010 from drilling in a 9-square-mile area around the village, took legal responsibility for the Dimock methane contamination, but contends water wells in the area were already tainted with methane long before the company arrived. The company also says it met a state deadline to restore or replace Dimock’s water supply.