Water Contaminated by Natural Gas Sparks DEP Halt on Drilling in Northwestern PA

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection halted oil and gas drilling at 36 sites after two residential water wells were contaminated in the northwestern part of the state. These drill sites are not part of the numerous Marcellus Shale operations. The Allegheny Front's Ashley Murray has more.

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HOST INTRO: Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection halted oil and gas drilling at 36 sites after two residential water wells were contaminated in the northwestern part of the state. These drill sites are not part of the numerous Marcellus Shale operations. The Allegheny Front's Ashley Murray has more.

MURRAY: The DEP told Catalyst Energy, Inc., to stop all drilling and hydro-fracturing operations within 2,500 feet of the two homes with contaminated water supplies. Shortly after the permits were issued for the 36 combination oil and gas drilling sites in late 2010, residents of a neighborhood in Forest County began to notice an odor and cloudiness in their water. The DEP began investigations and found elevated levels of iron and manganese dissolved in the homes' water supplies. After continued monitoring, in late March, the agency confirmed that, in fact, natural gas had also become a contaminant. A spokeswoman for the DEP says the company must solve the problem.

TARBELL: As the company moves forward with its investigation, it is required to submit a gas migration status report to the department every 10 days to bring us up to date on what they have been doing, what their findings are, and what they plan to do for the next ten days.

MURRAY: In addition to the reporting standards, Catalyst is also ordered to supply both homes with temporary clean water systems until July 1 when they must permanently restore or replace the water systems to those homes. Catalyst Energy is headquartered in Cranberry, north of Pittsburgh. For the Allegheny Front, I'm Ashley Murray.