"The first casualty of war is the truth," so it is famously said.
The Dimock water wars continued on friday, when EPA said the water test results at 20 more homes in Dimock had no contaminants at levels that presented health concerns, according to an EPA spokesman. http://articles.philly.com/2012-04-06/business/31300424_1_gas-drilling-roy-seneca-epa. Also see the actual test results in over 300 pages at: www.epaosc.org/sites/7555/files/Dimock%20Week%201%20and%202.pdf.
The April 6, EPA test results were consistent with the March EPA testing at 11 homes and that done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection since 2009.
Any hope that the EPA test results would create a ceasefire in the Dimock water wars seems fades, as the combatants rush to declare victory. Those seeking to shutdown the industry distort the results and falsely insist that they show that hydraulic fracturing caused frack fluids to contaminate water wells, while some industry supporters also falsely say the results prove that gas drilling had no impact of any sort on any water well in Dimock.
Neither position is true and battling combatants should destroy their credibility, when they insist on their false narratives. After years of testing, what can be said about the impact of hydraulic fracturing, as distinguished from the drilling, casing, and cementing of gas wells, on the water quality of water wells in Dimock?
Hydraulic fracturing did not contaminate anyone's water supply at Dimock. All tests show that, including the latest EPA results that the water does not have contaminants in it that are above health levels. Overwhelming evidence supports this conclusion, such as the low levels of chloride documented by EPA in the water.
But that is not all that must be said.
Unsafe levels of methane (which is not toxic and which, therefore, is not a health contaminant) in some water wells were documented since 2009, and comprehensive testing and other investigative actions done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection documented that mistakes in the gas drilling phase caused gas to migrate to 18 water wells. The gas in 18 water wells was not natural or in them, before drilling took place in 2008. As a result of plugging of gas wells and repairs of others that the DEP ordered, methane levels in 13 of them fell to concentrations below the action standard by December 2010.
The partisans on both sides of the Dimock water wars are unsatisfied with the twin conclusions that no contamination of water due to hydraulic fracturing happened, but methane migration to some water wells did occur due to errors in casing or cementing in the drilling phase. Each wants total victory and battles the truth that denies it to both.
The truth in Dimock is that hydraulic fracturing did not cause frack fluids to contaminate water wells, but gas did migrate as a result of errors in drilling the gas wells. Hopefully that truth will not be a casualty of the Dimock water wars.