Pennsylvania Drilling Operations Studied by EPA for Water, Waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating a well being drilled in western Pennsylvania for possible violations of air, water or hazardous-materials rules, an official said.

The agency began its inspections of the gas-drilling site, which it declined to identify, in September, Bonnie Smith, an EPA spokeswoman, said today in an interview. The investigation is continuing, she said.

“Legitimate concerns have emerged about potential environmental impact,” Smith said. Similar EPA investigations unrelated to drilling are in progress in the mid-Atlantic region, she said.

The investigation was disclosed today by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which reported that Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, has more wells and compressor stations to pump natural gas than any other county in the region.

The EPA is also testing water from wells in Dimock, Pennsylvania, after residents in the community complained of methane and chemical contamination from fracking for gas.

Hydraulic fracturing, technology that releases gas trapped in shale rock by injecting water, sand and chemicals thousands of feet underground, is used for almost every new natural-gas well drilled on U.S. lands.

Drilling in the state’s portion of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation could generate $20 billion for the state’s economy by 2020, up from $13 billion last year, according to an industry-funded study published by researchers from Pennsylvania State University.

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