Environmental Regulators Await Report from Beleaguered Energy Co.
December 6, 2011 - Comments Off
Pennsylvania state environmental regulators are still waiting on a report from Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. (“Cabot”), a company that has been plagued in recent years with charges of environmental abuse, reported the Scranton Times Tribune on Friday. This comes after Scott Ely of Dimock, PA spoke to The Times Tribune just over two weeks ago about the consequences of repeated environmental safety violations by Cabot over the last three years. Despite Cabot’s safety record, the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) has allowed them to stop providing replacement water to residents in nineteen affected homes.
Mr. Ely has been sharing his concerns about the following environmental violations with Cabot officials and state regulators since November 2009: (1) Cabot tried to hide, minimize or ignore at least five diesel spills or their impacts; (2) Company pits leaked or their plastic liners were torn before their contents were buried on thirteen occasions; (3) Cabot employees scraped contaminated soil, sand or gravel from a drilling pad onto the ground on at least two occasions; and (4) Cabot had well-control or casing problems on four wells.
For their part, Cabot officials told The Times Tribune that a report, prepared by environmental consulting firm URS Corp. (which, as we have written about, has been facing its own problems recently), will be released soon, and will report that its operations had no negative environmental impact, despite the fact that agency records show that the DEP issued violations at Cabot sites for at least 51 separate incidents between 2008 and 2010. These continued violations prompted the DEP to order Cabot to provide replacement water from outside sources to the homes affected by their recklessness. Now, after ordering Cabot to install methane-removal systems and fund escrow accounts for the value of the affected homes, the DEP plans to Cabot to discontinue the water replacement.
For all of Ely’s frustrations about the DEP’s willingness to allow Cabot to resume business as usual despite its troubling environmental record, he takes some small comfort in the fact that he has nevertheless made a difference, however small. The Times Tribune reports that “Cabot and others have improved: the driller no longer uses pits and now uses liners and other containments on its well pads to protect against spills reaching the ground.” Ely says simply, “Things are different because we spoke out.”