Damned Data! PA DEP Still Withholding Vital Water Test Results

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has held out long enough.

It’s time for the state to release the full test results from a Washington County, PA water well near a Range Resources fracking operation. It is, after all, the taxpayers who pay for such testing, and these taxpayers ought to know what pollutants have been identified in their drinking water. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to know to which toxic chemicals you have been exposed, especially when those chemicals have been intentionally omitted from your well water report by the DEP.

Now that the infamousSuite Code 942” has been revealed, the jig is up. Am loathe to moralize, but it sure seems like the right thing to do.

Many groups across Pennsylvania are calling for the release of these results. In Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say, Huffington Post, November 21, 2012, Lynne Peeples reports:

Critics suggest the purported ‘filtering’ of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Doesn’t DEP get it yet? Dismissing the drumbeats of concerned citizens only makes them louder.  

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is asking people to please send this letter via the link on their site, or write you own, to those directly responsible for keeping this vital health information a secret. Addresses below.  

Governor Corbett, Secretary Krancer:

I am shocked that Pennsylvania is withholding some test results of drinking water that may have been impacted by gas or oil drilling. The routine omission of the test results for 16 of the 24 metals for which these analyses are conducted is vital data that people need in order to protect themselves and their families and make informed decisions about their water supply. Why would you withhold this data? 

I request that you immediately release the missing data to all those who have had their water tested under the limited codes – people are drinking this water and are unaware of the risks. This data is also key to PADEP’s determinations regarding whether a person’s drinking water has been affected. In fact, the determination letters issued by PADEP on this incomplete information must be called into question.

I request that you immediately correct the procedures you employ in this testing to reflect all potential contaminants from gas and oil drilling that may be found in well water so that the full range of potential water pollution can be assessed and disclosed to people.

I request that you revoke PADEP’s new policy of requiring administrators in Harrisburg to approve any positive notices of contamination of water before affected members of the public are notified. This adds a layer of red tape to urgently needed data – the delay can directly harm those who are waiting for water test results. Full and prompt notification should be the standard at PADEP, not more bureaucracy, especially in matters involving public health. 

I am disappointed that Pennsylvania, with these current practices, is not protecting its residents and the environment with the diligence the public needs.  I am writing to ask for transparency in reporting, accuracy in analysis, and rigorous attention to water quality analyses related to gas and oil operations.  I will consider your response to be indicative of whether Pennsylvania can provide us with the protection we need.


Your Name

Concerned Citizen

Governor Tom Corbett

225 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg. Pennsylvania  17120


DEP Secretary Michael Krancer

Rachel Carson State Office Building

400 Market Street

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania  17101

[For an updated version of this post, see Darn Data! brynmawr.patch.com]

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