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Dimock has long played the unwelcomed role of ground zero in the fracking crisis in Pennsylvania.
Early on during the fracking boom, this quiet, rural township in Susquehanna County became notorious for explosive water wells, toxic tap water, and aquatic dead zones in its wetlands.
Today more challenges are knocking on Dimock’s door.
News reports suggest Dimock may serve as the location for Eastern Pennsylvania’s first deep injection fracking well. Although a formal injection well application has yet to be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, residents located within 1,000 feet of the planned well received letters notifying them of project plans.
An EPA spokesperson told StateImpact PA that representatives of Kendra II, a fracking logistics firm based just south of Dimock, met with agency officials this fall to discuss plans for the injection well.
Residents are rightfully concerned about the threat to their properties, health, and safety.
Although not directly connected to the potential Kendra II injection well, a history of irresponsible drilling practices has literally poisoned the drinking water wells in Dimock. Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently announced charges against major fracking operator Cabot Oil & Gas for alleged criminal violations of the Clean Streams Law.
Almost 15 years have passed since Cabot started to develop dozens of private gas wells within a nine-square-mile area around Dimock. Since then, poisonous chemicals have been discovered in 27 private wells, and explosive levels of methane have been detected in 17.
A Department of Environmental Protection investigation resulted in a restriction on Cabot gas operations around the town, known as the Dimock box, as well as a plan to restore water supplies. Unfortunately, it took Cabot nearly a decade to begin gas well remediation. Many violations remain unresolved today.
The Kendra II injection well would introduce a new set of challenges.
About a dozen deep injection wells are currently permitted in Pennsylvania, but Ohio currently bares most of the brunt. Rising transportation and disposal costs are, however, leading the industry to push for more wells to be located in Pennsylvania.
Deep injection wells can extend more than a mile underground. The injection process sends a combination of salty brine, hazardous chemicals, radioactive waste, and heavy metals into belowground formations.
This process has proved to be just about as reckless as it sounds. Hazardous wastewater disposed of in injection wells has been known to migrate and contaminate the drinking water of nearby residents. And the impacts do not stop there. Earthquakes associated with injection wells are popping up in Ohio, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas, at times shaking residents hundreds of miles away.
Dimock already knows well the risks posed by the fracking industry. Even the most well-intentioned fracking companies operate with risks that, any day, chemical waste could unintentionally spill or leak. These risks to local drinking water, combined with the possibility that fracking operations could result in earthquakes throughout the Susquehanna Valley, offer plenty of reasons to oppose the Kendra II wastewater injection well.
Dimock has already suffered enough.
PennFuture will be watching this situation closely as it unfolds, and we will be sure to keep the public informed in the months ahead.