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Federal health agency testing water again in Dimock Township

Cabot Oil and Gas fracking site in Dimock Township

DIMOCK TOWNSHIP, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WOLF) -- The federal government returned to Dimock Township Thursday to collect water and air samples from more than two dozen homes.

This testing comes from residents' continued concerns about their water quality.

The Associated Press reports The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal health agency collecting data, was testing for bacteria, gases and chemicals.

These tests follow a long battle between Dimock residents and Cabot Oil and Gas company over methane-contaminated water. In 2009, fifteen Dimock families with contaminated water filed a federal lawsuit against the company.

According to The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Cabot Oil and Gas has 113 active natural gas fracking wells in Dimock.

The company denies responsibility for the contamination, saying in a statement Thursday: "Numerous sets of data collected over the past several years in Dimock, by both EPA and DEP, have confirmed there is no threat to human health and the environment."

One resident we spoke to said he's noticed no recent difference in his water, and spent thousands testing it himself.

"I meticulously compared the results from our tests to their tests and I found no difference between the results from our pre-quality testing to their pre-drilling testing to their post-drilling testing," said Mike Faillace.

In 2012 the EPA sampled the water of 64 homes in Dimock, determining that there were not unsafe levels of toxins present.

But a May 2016 federal public health report from ATSDR, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found some chemicals in the water "high enough to affect health, pose a physical hazard, or affect general water quality so that it may be unsuitable for drinking". Chemicals found include methane, arsenic, and lead.

Of the fifteen original families that sued Cabot in 2009, all but two settled. In March of 2016, the two families that did not were awarded $4.24 million, after a jury found Cabot Oil and Gas responsible for contaminating residents' well water.

But earlier this year, a federal judge threw out the jury's verdict and ordered a new trial.

Some residents we spoke to Thursday who had their water quality tested, said they were not able to comment on ongoing water concerns, due to agreements made with Cabot Oil & Gas in their case settlements.

Test results are expected in the fall.

You can view the 2016 report from The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry here: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/DimockGroundwaterSite/Dimock_Groundwater_Site_HC_05-24-2016_508.pdf

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