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USGS study: methane common in groundwater of New York’s Southern Tier

Naturally-occurring methane is common in groundwater supplies throughout south-central New York, according to a study published today by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Samples were collected from 66 water wells in five southern New York counties along the Pennsylvania border in the summer of 2012.

The study area  included about 1,800 square miles and includes all or  part of Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Chenango, and Delaware  Counties.

USGS

The study area included about 1,800 square miles and includes all or part of Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Chenango, and Delaware Counties.

Researchers found that methane concentrations varied widely, but were more likely to be high in valleys, and low in upland areas. The study excluded water wells within one mile of known gas wells (active, exploratory, or abandoned).

Methane was present at high enough levels to prompt mitigation or monitoring in 15 percent of the samples.

USGS hydrologist and lead author Paul Heisig says it was important to establish an understanding of naturally occurring methane concentrations while New York’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is still in place.

“It seemed a prudent thing to do, because of the experience in Pennsylvania,” he says. “They would have benefited to have baseline reference data.”

So-called “tap water torches” and videos of people lighting their drinking water on fire have been widely circulated since the shale gas drilling boom began. The industry correctly points out that methane is naturally occurring, however gas development is also known to cause methane to migrate into drinking water supplies.

Since Pennsylvania does not regulate private water wells, it has been difficult in some case to determine whether instances of methane in water pre-date gas drilling activities. Companies now generally do baseline water testing before they begin development, and last year’s Act 13 expanded the presumption of liability for water contamination.

The USGS study was primarily funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

 

Comments

  • Gisstur

    Nice to have science ahead of the discussion for once. But given that 15 percent of the sample already needs mitigation, is it smart to risk making the situation worse? Also note this is not really a baseline: oil and gas drilling has already occurred in this area.

  • Vera Scroggins

    Why would 15% methane in the water be considered common?

    • FrackDaddy

      Are you saying that there is a 15% Methane content in the water? Because nowhere does it say that. Or are you saying 15% of wells surveyed? Because we have been telling you for 6 years that a lot of us have natural methane in or wells and always have!

      • Vera Scroggins

        We know some of us have natural methane in our water in Pa.. Mostly, very small amounts and many if not most of us have no methane in our water in Pa. when tested. When gas drilling happens nearby, the methane and heavy metals can shoot through the roof ….

        • FrackDaddy

          That’s nice, But you fail to explain how you are trying to spin the story. Then why to 15% of the tested homes have those high levels of Natural Methane that need mitigation? Please stop saying our! You are a New Jersey, Long Island Transplant who has caused nothing but trouble for the people who were unfortunate enough to have such a shrew like you move to our county! I would like to lease the whole county to Cabot so you cant set foot on any of it!

          • Vera Scroggins

            Anyone who believes their home and lives are in danger, would step forward and protect themselves and their families and others in the community. I have seen enough evidence of damages and danger the past five plus years to warrant speaking out about it.

          • FrackDaddy

            Agreed, When does suing for millions of dollars before test results are back come into protecting themselves? I like how you ignored the fact you are using your scare tactics and half truths to further YOUR agenda. I assume its cause you were caught red handed.

          • Taylor Barry

            Vera your a New Jersey Transient to PA. living on 1/4 acre of land in a trailor who has spent 5 years lying to people with your own brand of science lies and fear mongering. What educational background do you have in geology, hydrology, or in the oil and gas field? Why has it been OK for PA (The Quaker State as in motor oil) to have fracked oil wells for over 125 years but suddenly not gas? You have no solar panels or windmill powering your home, Your a customer of Natural Gas and fracked fuel.and you will be in Albany on Jan 8th trying to influence NY Politics with your lies. Here is what your about http://freebeacon.com/anti-fracking-activist-advocated-bizarre-child-sexuality-theories/

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            same tired defaming stories; if you can’t prove someone wrong, you defame and you’re an expert at it. what background in geology, hydrology, oil and gas, do you have?
            most people can see through your tactics of defamation and your inability to prove your position solely on science and facts and whether folks want to live next to industrial zones….

          • tke265

            tripe… there is no defense for pedophilia so blow smoke and pretend to be the victim. The answer to the question is not to ask what my credentials are but to provide yours and you do not have any education in the fields above yet you give tours and write blogs pretending to be an expert…. Your a fake Vera keep your fake science in PA stay the frack out of NY politics

    • mariecusick

      Hi Vera,

      According to the study, methane concentrations varied widely, but the gas was present at some level in 78 percent of the samples taken (greater than or equal to 0.001 milligrams per liter).

      However, in 15 percent of the samples, the methane concentration was high enough to to prompt mitigation or monitoring (greater than or equal to 10 mg/L).

      • Vera Scroggins

        then pre-testing before further gas drilling is important to have new baselines and if any gas drilling happens, and the numbers shoot up like in Pa., then something serious needs to be done about it. We have enough cases in Pa. to show that nearby gas drilling is impacting our water aquifers and water wells. DEP in Pa. has revealed 161 cases of water contamination from gas drilling since 2008. You can read the reports called DEP Determination letters posted on this site: http://www.damascuscitizensforsustainability.org/pa-dep-determination-letters/

        • FrackDaddy

          Well, you want to see a proven case of how these Anti’s are twisting facts and using half truths to try and scare people….. The first link is from the referenced website above in Vera’s comment…. The second link is to the actual document and those that came with it, Which states that gas drilling was NOT to blame for the water issues. The original letter is exhibit A (check the ref# at the bottom) and exhibit B shows the letter saying drilling was not at fault. Also take a few moments to read the entire court filing and you can see how Mrs Scroggings is named with interfering with them trying to get there water fixed.

          http://www.damascuscitizensforsustainability.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Franklin-Twp-4_24_13-Susquhanna-Cty-Determination-Ltr.pdf

          http://www.scribd.com/doc/182054440/WPX-motion-to-remove-equip-Franklin-Forks-w-exhibits

          • FrackDaddy

            Also note section 3218 title 58 of the Oil and Gas Act. If there is a water complaint the company is guilty until proven innocent. Which for the record I DO agree with. Please see section C.

            http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/58/00.032.018.000..HTM

          • http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/ William Huston

            FrackDaddy– You must be on some GOOD DRUGS. How do you suppose WPX was going to “fix” a water well with 81.3 mg/l methane (the highest reading I’ve ever seen)? Oh, and it’s not just methane, also metals (barium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, arsenic), chlorides (which might be salt or also HCL), and TDS?

            Even the super $38k water filtration system Cabot gives to those families in Dimock won’t be able to purify that!

          • Taylor Barry

            Vic Furman here Bill. This is how you communicate through your faith “You must be on some GOOD DRUGS” nice pre-judgement or should I say self projection of your own self. All those scarry metals and salts you list are common in the geology of he northeast and levels rise and fall with rain storms and droughts. Lets talk about the trailer park that was only 2 miles from the Mannings home forced to close in 1998 10 years before a gas well was drilled for the same reason. couldn’t have nothing to due with living over the largest gas field in the world with coal seams that reach to non regulated water wells in PA spewing coal bed methane into water wells. You spread false accusations Bill. Even Leo Cotnoir aka bluemoose wrote on a blog calling you crazy and he is one of you anti’s

      • http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/ William Huston

        Marie–

        It’s really valuable when journalist not only report the facts (as contained in the press release), but also to help us understand the data, as these reports often have a subtle or overt industry-serving agenda.

        What’s important to understand about the data you cite is that by setting a detect threshold extraordinarily low, that is .001 mg/l, it allows the USGS to be able to say “78% have methane”. This serves an industry agenda of “plausible deniability” if gas drilling comes and contaminates aquifers.

        However, this is very misleading. The action level in PA is 7mg/l. This is 7,000x greater than the USGS threshold, nearly 4 orders of magnitude!

        As an analogy, this is as if the action level was a distance of 2 miles, but they USGS measured this with a 12″in ruler. Or, if the action level was 12″inches, and you tried measuring that in units the thickness of a human hair.

        Something seems VERY FISHY with this USGS report.

        Why not set the lower bound at or near the action level? Because then they wouldn’t be able to say “78% have pre-existing methane”, but perhaps only 1% do.

        I found something similar with the GSI Environmental pre-drilling survey of Susquehanna County (L. Molofsky, et. al.). The entire range of the test covers 6 orders of magnitude, from “0.1 ppb” to “>10,000 ppb”.

        NOTE that 10,000 ppb is like
        (1B / 10k) = 100k.

        So this is 1/100,000th or 1 THOUSANDTH of one percent. Two of the Manning’s tests were over 10% methane which is 1/10th, which is 4 orders of magnitude, 10,000x greater!!

        So SUDDENLY, when WPX drilled 18 wells on 6 pads within a 2 mile radius of the Manning residence in Franklin Forks, their methane levels jumped 10,000x. WPX says this is “naturally occurring”.

        I call it an explosion.

        Scale matters.

        http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/2013/12/examining-claim-of-pre-existing-methane.html

        • Taylor Barry

          Willy you have been asked to quit pretending your a scientist it makes you look ignorant… not that you need help

    • Frank Chernega

      Ms. Scroggins: As usual you are either trying to spin the story or have reading comprehension problems. This is what the article states: “Methane was present at high enough levels to prompt mitigation or monitoring in 15 percent of the samples.” This is NOT 15% methane in the water. I know you are very upset over this report as it is putting a very large dent in your employer’s movie fame, Josh Fox and Gasland which showed flaming faucets just like what is possible and has in fact occurred here in NY in the past . Not to mention you are quite concerned that your lucrative bus tours may also be adversely impacted. Please consider staying in Pa and stay out of NY politics. We NY’ers are more than able to take care of our business without the help of a paid shill of Josh Fox and the super rich in NYC. I’m sure we will be seeing more of this in the future – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qv2IUc756A

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

        you have proof, I’m a paid shill? If I don’t do another citizen tour, that would be fine; people ask me to see what the gas companies do not show them; you can go to the gas companies for their tour which shows everything is fine and dandy and then you can come on mine and see my fellow , county residents who have been hurt by the pollution in their water and air …..see development from the road in various stages…

        • Frank Chernega

          Never saw money change hands, but there is overwhelming evidence that someone is funding you. I saw you, Craig and Ray at Gasland 2 in Binghamton with Fox and he lavished praise on you personally, and I’ve lost track of how many times you’ve been seen on youtubes in Albany NY at rallies and at countless drill pads all over PA making your camcorder videos and at countless NY town meetings with the last one at Maine, NY which I attended. All that travel, food and lodging costs a large sum of money and considering that I’ve heard you live in a trailer in Silver Lake, PA with no land, thus no lease or royalties, the money is coming from somewhere, no? Only a fool would believe you are spending your OWN MONEY to do something (NY fracktivist) that has no bearing on you at all. Some very wealthy NYC/Catskill Mtn residents are probably funding this war against us upstate NY landowners and in time the truth will come out just like the thermogenic and biogenic methane in NY water has finally been verified by the USGS. The falsehoods and subterfuge are unraveling. R U aware that NYSERDA funded the USGS study? Looks like Cuomo is seriously considering permitting and will use this baseline data as part of the justification.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            if I was making all this money, I wouldn’t be living in a little, old trailer; I get gas money and food when I visit an area from some and I usually come home that night or stay over in a person’s home….I lived in NY for 20 years and my three children , two grandchildren were all born in NY…so, NY is important to me to keep it safe and uncontaminated from gas drilling and a future place and refuge to relocate to when it becomes more unhealthy and unsafe to live here….

          • Frank Chernega

            Living in the trailer is a nice cover and touch….just like Fox saying the house in Milanville, Pa is his and the flaming faucets are all due to drilling. The house is his father’s summer home – see Michael Fox in Damascus township – http://taxpub.co.wayne.pa.us/SearchResults.asp?SearchItem=fox&SearchBy=AllOwners Thanks to the good folks at EID for this piece of info. Not to mention Fox has no array on his roof but tells everyone else to go renewable – http://i1.wp.com/naturalgasnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Screen-Shot-2013-06-10-at-8.22.35-PM.jpg?zoom=1.5&resize=456%2C283 We in the Southern Tier are not as stupid as you think.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            You also have a good imagination , Frank; hope you can use it to create the gas drilling world you want in NY….How many tours do you give weekly/monthly to show folks how wonderful gas drilling is??

        • Taylor Barry

          Yes I have seen fundraising to buy you equiptment on willys website, you chareged twenty dollar donations for your bus tours, shall we talk reimbursements and hotel and meal vouchers

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            I don’t charge anything; the organizers of the groups that come, charge for their buses use. You have a good imagination Taylor/Vic….What is willys website??and fundraising for what??

          • Frank Chernega

            “Organizers of the groups”?????? You mean all those people that live in NYC??? I’ve watched the videos on youtubes and those buses are loaded with NYC residents (unmistakeable accents). NYC people who have been buying up land here in upstate for many decades. I know personally of many farms that went under that were bought by these parasites and now they have the nerve to go on bus tours? They live 200 miles from where drilling would take place and on top of that are the biggest users of nat gas on the planet. NYC is shutting down all their oil fired power systems and replacing them with nat gas. Where are these anti’s screaming and yelling about shutting off all the fossil fuels to stay warm?? Hypocrites……

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            you’re upset , Frank, because you want these anti-gas people to stop being hypocrites and stop using gas or fossil fuels and you want them to stop buying the farms in NY that are are having trouble financially. I agree, I want them to stop using fossil fuels if possible and promote that and stop using the gas that comes in from Pa…

          • Frank Chernega

            “I agree, I want them to stop using fossil fuels if possible and promote that and stop using the gas that comes in from Pa…” BS. Then why aren’t you and your two sidekicks and this fellow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccT42R1nhek in Manhattan waving signs and banners to that effect? OOOPPPSS….almost forgot….Fox, and Ono live in NYC. I wonder how Yoko likes her new nat gas heating system that replaced the old oil fired system in the Dakota Building? Google it, it’s a fact.

          • tke265

            facebook and raise funds for Vera’s video recorder.

          • tke265

            not even for the 11:am touch therapy at the nudist colony????

      • http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/ William Huston

        Vera is paid by Josh Fox? Hah! Are you smoking crack? Sniffing glue? Do you really believe the stuff you write, Frank? It seems to me you are losing touch with reality. Your accusations are baseless and absurd. Since you have no supporting evidence, I suspect that you KNOW you are making this stuff up, which makes you a LIAR, guilty of the crime of defamation.

        If you DON’T know you are making up this stuff, then this means you are delusional and you don’t know what is real and what is not. Since you’ve shown to be violent and angry, and you don’t understand what is real, then you are at great danger of hurting someone. You should seek medical attention or counseling immediately.

  • FrackDaddy

    In case you would accutally like to read the report, Not the cherry picked facts and anti opinions in this article, please see the full report here. (I know science is not high on you list of things you like to look at).

    http://www.slideshare.net/MarcellusDN/usgs-report-on-naturally-occurring-methane-in-ny-water-wells-not-caused-by-fracking

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

    Chesapeake Energy is in trouble again with regulators: check this out: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/19/us-chesapeake-penalty-idUSBRE9BI19Z20131219
    Chesapeake fined 3.2 million for water violations and ordered to pay 6.5 million to restore streams and wetlands….

    • Frank Chernega

      At some point or another, all the car makers get in hot water over serious safety issues with the cars they build. Ditto for the aircraft industry, food industry, pharmaceuticals, etc. Your singling out of the nat gas industry indicates you could care less about people per se and speaks volumes of what you are really after. Keep drilling out of NY so your masters in NYC and the Catskills can keep preying on bankrupt farmers who would not need these vulture’s money if they could legally lease their land and then be able to keep their farms.

  • DoryHippauf

    “COMMON” in groundwater? This differs from the USGS press release which states Dissolved Methane Found in SOME New York Groundwater. http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3391

    PER USGS:
    While 91 percent of samples tested found no dissolved methane, or levels
    below the threshold that would require monitoring, seven percent of
    these wells tested at levels above 10 milligrams per liter, the level at
    which well owners should contact local health departments for
    information on monitoring or remediation.

    In any event, knowing dissolved methane is already present in SOME groundwater sources and drilling could cause methane levels to rise, one would think the fossil fuel industry would take special precautions to prevent this.

    A baseline test is not enough. One test is a single snapshot of the water.

    According to the USGS: Dissolved methane found in groundwater and as gas in the air space above
    the water in a well does change seasonally and even daily. Seasonal
    changes in groundwater level and even barometric pressure changes can
    change the concentration of methane found in wells. Therefore a single
    methane concentration value is just an indication of the presence or
    absence of methane at the time of the collection of the water sample.

    Therefore, multiple water tests over at least a years time are needed to get an accurate picture of normal levels.

    As far as Act 13′s presumption of liability – please cite one instance where the PA DEP has actually held a fossil fuel corporation liable and required them to fix the problem?

    • Frank Chernega

      Ms. Hippauf: You stated: “Therefore, multiple water tests over at least a years time are needed to get an accurate picture of normal levels.” Please be advised that the USGS tests started 16 months ago on 66 wells. Gee, it’s great to see you’re more adept and well versed than the scientists and engineers in the USGS. You are at least as good as this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccT42R1nhek

      • FrackDaddy

        OOOOOOHHHHHH——-AAAAAHHHHHHH—-UUUUUMMMMMM…….Says the lying name calling Buddhist…..

        • Frank Chernega

          That he is indeed. Here’s another youtube of him and a bunch of his fanatics disrupting a meeting conducted by otherwise sane people – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asHZdHJZv-o That’s Willy with the tan hat and white beard…….

          • FrackDaddy

            They are fun to watch…………! This is my personal favorite.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxx2LLzqk6E

          • Frank Chernega

            Where’s a straightjacket when you need one? I’ve included this video into my library as it is very amusing. Huston stating there is no opposing viewpoint is hilarious. He needs reminding that Gasland and Gasland 2 were the two biggest propaganda films I’ve ever seen that was all one sided.

          • FrackDaddy

            I never saw Gasland 2, I had enough with the first. But Park has given WOW international 100k for GAsland 3. I prefer to watch this!

            http://vimeo.com/41848980

    • FrackDaddy

      Act 13 section 3218 sub section (c) (d). states

      C-Presumption.–Unless rebutted by a defense established in subsection (d), it shall be presumed that a well operator is responsible for pollution of a water supply if:

      (1) except as set forth in paragraph (2):

      (i) the water supply is within 1,000 feet of an oil or gas well; and

      (ii) the pollution occurred within six months after completion of drilling or alteration of the oil or gas well; or

      (2) in the case of an unconventional well:

      (i) the water supply is within 2,500 feet of the unconventional vertical well bore; and

      (ii) the pollution occurred within 12 months of the later of completion, drilling, stimulation or alteration of the unconventional well.

      D-(d) Defenses.–To rebut the presumption established under subsection (c), a well operator must affirmatively prove any of the following:

      (1) except as set forth in paragraph (2):

      (i) the pollution existed prior to the drilling or alteration activity as determined by a predrilling or prealteration survey;

      (ii) the landowner or water purveyor refused to allow the operator access to conduct a predrilling or prealteration survey;

      (iii) the water supply is not within 1,000 feet of the well;

      (iv) the pollution occurred more than six months after completion of drilling or alteration activities; and

      (v) the pollution occurred as the result of a cause other than the drilling or alteration activity; or

      (2) in the case of an unconventional well:

      (i) the pollution existed prior to the drilling, stimulation or alteration activity as determined by a predrilling or prealteration survey;

      (ii) the landowner or water purveyor refused to allow the operator access to conduct a predrilling or prealteration survey;

      (iii) the water supply is not within 2,500 feet of the unconventional vertical well bore;

      (iv) the pollution occurred more than 12 months after completion of drilling or alteration activities; or

      (v) the pollution occurred as the result of a cause other than the drilling or alteration activity.

      Here is the link too, So what do you have to say now………?

      http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/58/00.032.018.000..HTM

  • Frank Chernega
    • FrackDaddy

      I can’t wait to see what MR will have to say! But once again the people of New York have spoken through the election.

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