* EPA says water safe at 11 homes
* Results from remaining 49 homes as soon as next week
* Arsenic found at 2 homes, more tests needed
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, March 15 A first round of
tests showed no evidence that water at 11 homes in a small town
in Pennsylvania near natural gas drilling operations had been
polluted to unhealthy levels, U.S. environmental regulators said
The Environmental Protection Agency said in January it would
perform tests at about 60 homes in Dimock where residents have
complained since 2008 of cloudy, foul-smelling water after Cabot
Oil & Gas Corp began hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,
for gas nearby.
Sampling results from the first round of 11 homes "did not
show levels of contamination that could present a health
concern," a regional EPA spokesman said in an email.
Samples from six of the 11 homes did show concentrations of
sodium, methane, chromium or bacteria, but those results were
all within safe ranges, the spokesman said.
Arsenic was found in the water at two of the 11 homes, but
the agency determined those levels were also safe. The agency
will retest the water at those two homes.
The EPA has been delivering fresh water to several homes in
Dimock including three of the 11 homes. It will continue to
provide water to those homes while it performs more sampling.
A Cabot spokesman said the company was pleased with the
first round of results and it would continue to work with the
New drilling techniques such as fracking have revolutionized
the U.S. natural gas industry by giving companies access to vast
new reserves that could supply the country's demand for 100
years, according to the industry.
Environmentalists and health groups worry that some fracking
operations near homes and schools pollute water and air. The
industry denies that water supplies have ever been tainted by
As fracking operations grow in the United States, tensions
are also rising between federal and state governments about
monitoring potential pollution from drilling.
The EPA is conducting a national study to determine if
fracking, in which companies blast large amounts of water laced
with chemicals and sand deep underground to free natural gas and
bring it to the surface, is polluting water supplies.
The agency said last week it would work with the state of
Wyoming to retest water supplies after questions were raised
about an EPA draft report showing that harmful chemicals from
fracking fluids were likely present in a aquifer near the town
The next round of results from Dimock could be out late next
week, a spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Richard Pullin)