Wells contaminated at site of gas leak
State officials have tested Steiner’s water and told him in a letter that it contained amounts of iron, manganese and other contaminants above the standards for safe drinking water.
It also had enough natural gas to pose “a physical danger of fire or explosion,” the letter stated.
A time line:
- Nov. 20: Bob Steiner, a resident of Head Drive, notices “bubbling” along Walnut Creek near First Alliance Church, 2939 Zimmerly Road. National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. officials detect potentially high levels of methane in the air and ground near the homes. Five families are evacuated, and all utilities are shut off.
- Nov. 29: First Alliance gives permission to have its seven gas wells vented to decrease underground pressure.
- Dec. 1: Well No. 4 is vented, causing methane levels to drop significantly.
- Dec. 4: A new pipe is installed in Well No. 4. A stopper is placed at the end of the well to keep methane from seeping to the surface.
- Dec. 5-7: Methane levels decrease, but then rise.
- Dec. 8: First Alliance agrees to have Well No. 4 filled with salt water to keep methane from seeping.
- Dec. 9-17: Methane levels again decrease, but later rise.
- Dec. 18: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection orders First Alliance to cap Well No. 4 by filling it with cement.
- Dec. 19: Well No. 4 is capped.
- Dec. 21: DEP officials tell families methane levels again declined, then rose in certain areas. It’s not known when they will be able to move back.
- Dec. 28: Head Drive residents are permitted to move home.
- April 11: Bob Steiner is told by the DEP that the amount of iron and manganese in his water exceeds safe drinking water standards. The letter blamed nearby “oil and gas drilling.”
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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