The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday ordered a natural gas company in Forth Worth, Texas, to take immediate action to protect homeowners living near one of its drilling operations who have complained about flammable and bubbling drinking water coming out of their tap.
EPA testing has confirmed that extremely high levels of methane in their water pose an imminent and substantial risk of explosion or fire. EPA has also found other contaminants including benzene, which can cause cancer, in drinking water.
The agency determined that natural gas drilling near the homes by Range Resources in Parker County, Texas, has caused or contributed to the contamination of at least two residential drinking water wells. EPA has ordered the company to step in immediately to stop the contamination, provide drinking water and provide methane gas monitors to the homeowners.
EPA has asked the company to conduct a full scale investigation and is requiring Range Resources under the order to:
· Immediately deliver potable water to the two residences;
· Immediately sample soil gas around the residences;
· Immediately sample all nearby drinking water wells to determine the extent of aquifer contamination;
· provide methane gas monitors to alert homeowners of dangerous conditions in their houses;
· develop a plan to remediate areas of the aquifer that have been contaminated; and
· to investigate the structural integrity of its nearby natural gas well to determine if it is the source of contamination.
EPA is also ordering Range Resources to investigate other nearby properties to determine if their drinking water is at risk. EPA has been in contact with a rural water system operator approximately 1 mile away, and it is taking steps to test its water for natural gas constituents. The agency said it will contact nearby private well home owners to advise them of our actions and to let them know that it has ordered Range Resources to test their wells.