Resident allowed to appeal DEP ruling on well water
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Pennsylvania's environmental court has ruled that a Washington County resident may appeal a state Department of Environmental Protection determination that his private water well was not contaminated by nearby Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.
The ruling by the Environmental Hearing Board clears the way for Loren Kiskadden of Amwell to ask the board to review whether the DEP's investigation of his well contamination complaint was inaccurate and incomplete.
Sampling of the Kiskadden well by the DEP and Range Resources in June 2011 found dissolved methane gas, chloroform, butyl alcohol, acetone and high levels of sodium and total dissolved solids.
The DEP argued that Mr. Kiskadden had no right to appeal that determination because it was the result of a "discretionary" investigation and report that does not direct or require drilling companies to do anything.
The EHB ruling dated May 16 and written by the board's chief judge and chairman Thomas Renwand strongly rejected the state agency's position and said the state Oil and Gas Act requires the DEP to investigate water pollution or diminution claims.
Mr. Renwand's opinion said the DEP's determination about the contamination of the Kiskadden well "clearly and adversely affected Mr. Kiskadden's property rights. As such, it is an action of the Department and is, thus, appealable to the Environmental Hearing Board."
First Published May 25, 2012 12:00 am