According to a recent review, in at least four states, hundreds of complaints have been filed regarding water contamination from drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of these reports. The Associated Press (AP) requested data on water contamination from drilling complaints in Texas, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania and found major differences in how states report issues. According to results, Texas was the only state that provided details; the other three offered only general outlines. While the confirmed problems represent only a fraction of the thousands of gas and oil wells drilled each year in the U.S., the lack of detail in some state reports could contribute to public mistrust and confusion.
If you or a loved one have been affected by water contamination from drilling and you would like to learn more about your legal rights, contact Attorney Group today. We can help answer your questions and help you determine the most effective way to seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Water Contamination from Drilling: Always a Possibility
In its report, the AP found that Pennsylvania received 398 and 499 complaints in 2013 and 2012, respectively, alleging that natural gas or oil drilling polluted or adversely affected private water wells. These complaints included allegations of pollution from stray gas or other substances as well as short-term diminished water flow. Over the past five years, more than 100 confirmed cases of pollution were reported.
Additional complaints were noted as follows:
- Ohio: 37 in 2010 (no contamination), 54 in 2011 (two confirmed), 59 in 2012 (two confirmed), 40 in 2013 (two confirmed, 14 under investigation)
- West Virginia: 122 over the past four years
- Texas: over 2,000, 62 of which allege well-water contamination from gas and oil activity
Over the past decade, fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has led to an increase in natural gas and oil production around the nation. It has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for landowners and companies and reduced imports but also created fears of pollution.
In order to extract fuel from shale, companies must pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of sand, water and chemicals into the ground to free the gas and break apart the rock. Some of the water, along with water that naturally exists underground, returns to the surface and may contain high levels of heavy metals, drilling chemicals, salt and low level radiation that occurs naturally underground. However, some gas and oil wells are still drilled, so water contamination from drilling complaints may result as well.
Still, investigating complaints of water contamination is particularly difficult, in part because some states may also have natural methane gas pollution or other issues unrelated to drilling. However, other experts acknowledge that individuals who are attempting to understand the harms and benefits from the drilling boom need comprehensive details about the complaints, regardless of whether the cases are from natural causes.
Devastating Consequences May Ensue
Most recently, the West Virginia chemical spill on January 9, 2014 resulted not from drilling but from one of several causes: freezing ground beneath a storage stank, a burst water line during frigid temperatures or an object puncturing a hole in the side of the pipe, causing chemicals to leak into the water.
However, regardless of the cause, the water was tainted, and over 300,000 West Virginians were left without safe drinking water. According to recent reports, the company to blame, Freedom Industries, Inc., has since filed for bankruptcy, shielding themselves from dozens of lawsuits that have been mostly filed by businesses that were forced to shut their doors for days.
Regardless of whether water contamination from drilling occurs or companies are to blame for polluting the public’s drinking supply, those affected may be entitled to seek legal compensation for property damage and other damages including lost wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering and medical expenses should they become ill due to contaminated water.
Contact Attorney Group for More Information
If you or your business have been impacted by a water crisis, it is important that you secure clean water for yourself and your family and remain informed of the latest developments until the crisis is over. When life resumes to normal, you may have questions about water contamination from drilling and your legal options in response to the crisis. Contact Attorney Group for answers to your concerns and to receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We can also connect you with an affiliated attorney who will assist you in obtaining the compensation for damages to which you may be entitled.