Dimock residents tell cautionary tales on gas drilling

Dimock residents tell cautionary tales on gas drilling by Derrick Ek, May 19, 2011, Corning Leader
Several residents of Dimock, Pa., – where a bitter dispute over a cluster of drinking water problems blamed on gas drilling has made national headlines in recent years – told their stories to a crowd of approximately 200 people Thursday evening at Corning West High School. Because of contaminated water he blames on faulty gas wells drilled nearby by Cabot Oil and Gas, Craig Sautner told the audience how he and his wife, Julie, rely on a daily delivery to fill their 550-gallon “water buffalo,” or tank, for showering and doing dishes. Their drinking water comes from five-gallon jugs of spring water. The Sautners are one of more than a dozen families from Dimock involved in a lawsuit against Cabot. Although testing by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environment Protection and independent firms has indicated his water contamination was due to Cabot’s wells, the company has never admitted wrongdoing, although they pay for his water deliveries, Sautner said. However, he has to pay the cost of heating the water from his “water buffalo” in the winter.

Sautner says he’s “been abused by the gas industry like you wouldn’t believe” during his three-year ordeal. He closed with a warning to residents of the Southern Tier. “On the ride up here, I saw what beautiful country you have here. Don’t let (the gas industry) ruin it on you,” he said.

Another Dimock resident, Victoria Switzer, told of similar problems with her water. She also spoke of getting little sympathy from elected officials and being very unpopular in her hometown for speaking out against the gas industry. … “Dimock is not an anomaly. We are not the only ones this is happening to,” Switzer said. … Also speaking Thursday was Dr. Tony Ingraffea, a Cornell University professor, rock fracturing expert and former gas industry employee who spent about an hour debunking what he called some of the myths propagated by the gas industry. Thursday’s forum was organized by the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, Coalition to Protect New York, League of Women Voters of Steuben County, and People for a Healthy Environment.

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