Shale gas driller fined $1.2 million for contaminating drinking water in Westmoreland County

More than four years after a WPX Energy Appalachia wastewater impoundment leaked and contaminated the drinking water of five Westmoreland County families, the shale gas company has agreed to pay the state a $1.2 million penalty.
But the families still don’t have sufficient, permanent water supplies, said Melissa Marshall, community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association, an environmental organization.
It is next to Donegal Lake, which drains into Loyalhanna Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River.
“We quickly worked to rectify the situation from its onset, immediately emptying and ultimately closing a containment pond for recycled water as soon as we became aware of potential issues,” Mr. Swan said.
“Importantly, no individual’s health was ever at risk even by the most stringent state and EPA standards,” he said.
The company also installed single-faucet water filtration systems in the five homes, but according to Ms. Marshall, those systems don’t provide enough water.
The families, who live near Stahlstown, must supplement the filtered water with bottled water.
“The filtration systems are completely insufficient in providing for the water needs of the families, and that’s been true for years,” Ms. Marshall said.
This settlement doesn’t help the residents, who are still in dire need.” She said DEP consent orders issued over the past three years requiring WPX to replace the permanent residential water supplies don’t specify the amounts of water the company needs to provide, and the filtration systems the company installed in the five residences don’t come close to meeting the families’ needs.
“My interview notes say that on the high end, one family estimated the reverse osmosis system made three gallons every six hours.

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