Thirteen families in Susquehanna County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, have filed a lawsuit against Southwestern Energy Company of Houston, claiming that their drinking water wells have been contaminated by the hydraulic fracturing of a natural gas well in close proximity to their homes. Reports on the lawsuit are sketchy, and infer that the contamination is a result of faulty casing cement in the well bore, as well as insufficient impoundment at the surface to prevent fluids removed from the well from seeping back into the earth, and presumably into the groundwater.
The suit, filed in Susquehanna County Civil Court, alleges that the Price Well number 1, located in Lenox Township in that county, was fracked using drilling muds that contain carcinogens and toxins, including barium, manganese and strontium. The allegations claim negligence on the part of Southwestern Energy and its employees.
While our search of Southwestern Energy’s website revealed no discussion of the constituents of it’s fracking fluid, this fact sheet which we have oft cited, courtesy of Chesapeake Energy, lists it’s fracking fluid components, and none of the elements listed in the lawsuit are among them. Note that this is Chesapeake’s fact sheet specific to their activity in the Marcellus Play, and we are reasonably confident that Southwestern’s fracking fluid is not significantly different.
None of the reports we could find regarding this lawsuit indicated the depth of the aquifer from which the drinking water is removed or the depth of Price no. 1. In addition, none of the reports indicated whether any of these wells had been tested for contamination prior to the fracking of the well. We have contacted the author of one such report, and will share his response when, or if, it is received and offers any new revelations.
This is one we will be watching closely.