Morgan & Paul, PLLC Will Protect Your Rights Against the Gas Companies for Toxic Exposure and Property Damage Due to Drilling in the Marcellus and Haynesville Shale.
Energy companies are drilling for natural gas which is now known to cause medical and environmental damage. During the drilling process, the companies are injecting toxic fluids into cracks in the earth, a process identified as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Gas Companies figured out that fracking can be used to release the natural gas by drilling and injecting a liquid chemical mixture at very high pressure into the earth. As a result, rocks below the earth fracture allowing additional gas to be diverted to the surface. The problem is that this rupture of the earth caused by the fracking fluids is polluting the water supply in our communities, and may cause serious medical conditions and property damage.
Gas Companies have been fracking in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado and Wyoming. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a number of environmental groups are concerned about the consequences of natural resource mining associated with fracking, the potential for environmental pollution and property damage, and the risk that the chemicals used in the process may create serious health risks.
According to a report prepared by the EPA, the use of a combination of chemicals known as “BTEX” (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) have all been linked to a number of serious health problems including central nervous system disorders and chronic health problems including symptoms of fatigue, nausea and memory loss.
Environmental tort liability under federal and state laws provides legal rights including nuisance, trespass, negligence, strict liability, restitution and waste. Compensation may be available for property damage, bodily injury, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of profits, punitive and injunctive relief.
If you live near an area where there has been fracking, and you have been diagnosed with a disease, such as leukemia, or have property damage, please contact our offices for an initial consultation about your rights.
Strict Liability Under the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act for Water Pollution Created by Hydraulic Fracturing
The Marcellus Shale is one of the most potentially productive natural gas fields in the world. It is estimated that trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are contained within the formation. In order to reap the benefits of the Marcellus Shale gas, both horizontal and vertical drilling must take place. Additionally, gas drillers use a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, in simple terms, involves drilling vertical and horizontal wells, casing the well with cement, and injecting the well with a chemical solution. That chemical solution is designed to access the gas formations and to aid in its movement to the surface. Among the chemicals included in the fracking fluid are known carcinogens, such as: benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene and xylene, also known as BTEX. Such chemicals are a threat to groundwater.
A great deal has been written about the hazards of the Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing in our watersheds and the aquifer. Over a million gallons of water, chemicals and sand are injected into the earth at high pressure. The potential hazards to our streams and water supply are many. The chemical compounds that make up fracking solution are hazardous to all living things - from plants to livestock to our pets and our children. The water table is susceptible to chemical infiltration at several different stages of hydraulic fracturing: injection, backflow, storage and disposal of wastewater.
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act establishes baseline protections against the contamination of the state's public and private water supplies. Under Section 208 of the Oil and Gas Act, a well operator is presumed "to be responsible for the pollution of a water supply that is within 1,000 feet of the oil or gas well, where the pollution occurred within six months after the completion of the drilling or alteration of such well." The burden of proof then shifts to the well operator show that the pollution was pre-existing, or outside of the time and distance parameters in the statute. In order to preserve the pre-existing pollution defense, oftentimes well operators will conduct a pre-drilling survey of the water supply. The well operator is not obligated to share the information obtained from the survey with the landowner. As such, it is recommended that landowners and water rights owners obtain their own, independent pre-drilling water assessment. The EPA Water Quality Criteria indicates the safe levels of contaminates in drinking water. These criteria are published pursuant to Section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
If the landowner or water rights owner believes that it has suffered contamination, complaints under Section 208 must be made to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP has ten days to begin an investigation and forty-five days to present its findings to the complaining person. If the report indicates that the well operator has polluted the supply, the DEP must require the operator to restore or replace the water supply.
For more information on your rights, please call our law office at (412) 259-8375 or toll free at 1-888-967-5674 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.