The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating several complaints possibly related to an incident at a fracking site in Greene County in June.
According to the DEP, the incident happened near EQT’s “Lumber” gas well, where the company was actively fracking for natural gas. The agency said in an email that on June 19, an area resident complained to the company that sediment was getting into their well water and that gas and fluid were coming out of a nearby abandoned well.
The DEP said EQT confirmed the fluid from the active fracking site was “communicating” with the abandoned well – a condition sometimes called a ‘frac-out’.
Tammy Yoders, of New Freeport, said the water in one of the two wells on her property had changed color, and her two dogs won’t drink water from the other well. She stopped drinking the water after seeing a post from the Freeport Township Supervisors on Facebook about the ‘frac-out’ near her house.
She says EQT gave her family water once, but she’s been buying water to drink for the past few weeks.
“It’s terrible. It’s something we shouldn’t have to do, you know?” she said. “They possibly could have contaminated our water, and we’re concerned about it. They tested the water, but we haven’t got results back.”
EQT says it’s working with the DEP to investigate, and has stopped all fracking activities at the Lumber site. In an email, a spokeswoman said the company “is investigating whether there is any relationship between this incident and EQT’s completions operations at its Lumber pad site, which is more than a mile from the abandoned well.”
DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said in an email that the agency’s study of the incident “includes an investigation of several water supply complaints, and investigation into gas wells in the area of the Lumber well site.”
John Stolz, a professor of environmental microbiology at Duquesne University, said he tested the water at three houses in New Freeport at the request of area residents and found elevated levels in methane in one of them. As a result, he said he recommended the residents he spoke with not to drink the water.
Note: Stolz receives research funding from The Heinz Endowments and Colcom Foundation, which also fund The Allegheny Front.
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.