For Immediate Release
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is investigating a case of presumed water well contamination linked to fracking in Plum Borough, which could be the first such case in Allegheny County.
While the DEP and Plum Borough Council have known about the contaminated water well in Plum since late last summer, they failed to alert citizens and other local governments of the problem. Seven months later, the news was finally reported to the public by StateImpact and reporter Andy Sheehan of KDKA-TV.
The groundwater contamination is linked to Huntley & Huntley’s Midas 8M well, the first unconventional gas well in Plum. According to the complaint, a landowner reported a clogged filtration system and a foul smell. The DEP’s water tests found elevated levels of iron and other metals in the water. Per state law, if such contamination occurs within a year of the well being drilled and within 2,500 feet of the well, it is presumed that the unconventional well is the cause of the problem.
In November 2017, Plum enacted a new zoning code that many residents opposed due to its failure to protect them and their property from the harms associated with fracking. Protect Plum, a grassroots group of concerned residents, had advocated for a stronger ordinance that kept this industrial land use in the industrial zone of the borough and out of residential areas.
Food & Water Watch has worked to support these grassroots leaders since that time. Municipalities in Allegheny County and the surrounding areas are drafting more protective ordinances, often in consultation with Food & Water Watch’s Municipal Ordinance Project (MOP). Food & Water Watch worked with neighboring Oakmont Borough to pass a sensible and protective ordinance in January 2019.
“Plum Borough Council got it wrong two years ago by allowing fracking in residential areas,” said Doug Shields, Food & Water Watch’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Outreach Liaison. “Zoning ordinances aren’t written in stone. Elected local officials can develop policies and ordinances that look to the best interests of the community, instead of ignoring the many problems associated with fracking. All Allegheny County elected officials have a constitutional duty to do so. They need only look to their neighbors in Oakmont, who provide the right course of action in their recently enacted oil and gas ordinance.”