$1.6M settlement in Pa. gas drilling lawsuit - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

$1.6M settlement in Pa. gas drilling lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
  • EnergyEnergyMore>>

  • UPDATE: WV leaders applaud possible energy company expansion

    UPDATE: WV leaders applaud possible energy company expansion

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:05 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:05:44 GMT
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the announcement of four major energy companies partnering to build a proposed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is another step toward expanding West Virginia's economy.
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the announcement of four major energy companies partnering to build a proposed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is another step toward expanding West Virginia's economy.
  • WV Wilderness group fights against gas companies over pipeline in Pocahontas County

    WV Wilderness group fights against gas companies over pipeline in Pocahontas County

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:40 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:40:53 GMT
    The West Virginia Wilderness group has been fighting three gas companies for months, who want to put a pipeline in Pocahontas County .Lauren Ragland is the founder of West Virginia Wilderness and said the pipeline does not belong in Pocahontas County.
    The West Virginia Wilderness group has been fighting three gas companies for months, who want to put a pipeline in Pocahontas County .Lauren Ragland is the founder of West Virginia Wilderness and said the pipeline does not belong in Pocahontas County.
  • Dominion, Duke to build $5B natural gas pipeline

    Dominion, Duke to build $5B natural gas pipeline

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-09-02 13:20:59 GMT
    Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners have proposed building a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with the prodigious supplies of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
    Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners have proposed building a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with the prodigious supplies of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

(AP) Three northeastern Pennsylvania families have reached a $1.6 million settlement with a gas drilling company over contaminated water wells.

But Jared McMicken of Wyalusing said the agreement reached Thursday provides little comfort, since his drinking water was ruined by nearby drilling and his family must move.

"We've lost our house, and we're not going to get out of it what we got into it," McMicken said. "We have a bunch of people who have to leave their homes."

The dispute with Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy began in 2010. Wyalusing is about 160 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

McMicken said he and the other families in the case insisted that any settlement be made public. The arbitration trial began this week and was settled on the fourth day.

Attorney Todd O'Malley said he believes this is the first case involving pollution in the Marcellus Shale region where settlement terms were publicly disclosed. Past disputes have been sealed.

The Marcellus is a gas-rich rock formation thousands of feet under large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Over the past five years, advances in drilling technology made the gas accessible, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits - and a drop in natural gas prices for consumers.

Chesapeake said in a statement that it believes there is no permanent damage to the properties and that other water wells in the area showed natural contamination before drilling began. McMicken disputed that, saying his water and that of his neighbors was fine before the drilling.

Last year the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined Chesapeake just over $1 million for contaminating the water supplies of 16 families in the area, including McMicken's. A transcript of expert testimony in the settlement showed that experts from DEP agreed that faulty cement casings on the wells allowed gas and other substances to migrate from deep underground and pollute the water wells.

"They screwed up all the wells on this mountain. Anybody that lives in this area, are going to pay the price over time," McMicken said.

Attorney John Romano said he's representing about 30 other families in the region with similar claims.

Under the terms of the settlement the families will have to give Chesapeake the properties by the end of 2012.

"While Chesapeake remains confident that the water supply is consistent with area water quality standards, it has entered into the settlement so the families and the company could bring closure to the matter," the company said.