WPX leaves water systems at Franklin homes
BY STACI WILSON
WPX Energy halted its plans to remove water tanks on Monday from two Franklin Twp. homes.
Anti-gas activists protested the court approved removal of water buffaloes planned for Monday by the natural gas drilling company.
After being blocked from removing the water system at the Hadlick residence on Nov. 1, WPX Energy, Tulsa, Okla., sought a court order which would allow them onto the properties to retrieve the equipment.
After a week of negotiations with the attorney for the Hadlick and Manning families, WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver said on Friday, the company decided to leave the water systems in place.
Oliver said the company had been working with the families’ attorneys to find a long-term solution to their water problems, including an offer to purge, clean and replace the water wells. The families, Oliver said, declined the offer.
At the request of Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Environmental Protection, WPX installed water systems – tank, piping and water well vents – in March 2012 at three homes in the township after those families claimed natural gas drilling had contaminated their water wells.
Following a 16-month investigation, DEP found that the contamination, including elevated methane levels, in the wells could not be attributed to gas drilling but was naturally occurring, and similar to methane found at nearby Salt Springs State Park.
Two of the three families – the Hadlicks and the Mannings – have been relying on the WPX equipment since it was installed.
According to Oliver, the families declined WPX’s offer to sell them the installed equipment.
The equipment reportedly would cost about $1,800 for each home.
Anti-gas supporters began an internet campaign last week in an effort to raise the funds for the families’ to purchase the water systems.
On Nov. 1, the date Oliver said had been negotiated with the attorney for the Hadlick family, WPX employees and contractors were refused entry onto the property.
Oliver said the company had been assured that the Hadlick family had a water tank ready to be installed at that time.
Homeowner Tammy Hadlick said in November that the system WPX plans to take away holds over 1,000 gallons of water and would be exchanged with a 325-gallon tank her family received as a donation from a Dimock resident.
She said that the family of about seven that resides at the home uses about 250 gallons of water each day. “What big deal is it to leave the buffalo there?” Hadlick asked.
The Manning family reportedly had ordered a water buffalo to replace the WPX one and was waiting for its arrival in November.
Former DEP Secretary and gubernatorial candidate John Hanger, also weighed in on the matter, publicizing a letter Friday he faxed to Governor Tom Corbett and DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo requesting the state to stop the removal and reopen the investigation into the water issues at the Franklin homes.
“Please call WPX and ensure that it will not remove these water tanks. Decency demands this outcome,” Hanger said in the letter. “WPX, which makes millions in this state, should be glad to donate the tanks to the affected families.”
He also stated his intent to be in Franklin Forks on Monday.
After the announcement by WPX that the water systems would be permanently left at the homes, Hanger took credit for the company’s decision.
Oliver said Hanger’s interest in the matter had nothing to do with WPX’s decision to allow the tanks to stay in place.
In a release issued by Hanger he said, “WPX’s plan to remove the tanks at Christmas time would make the Grinch smile. And to justify its actions the company ‘thought up a lie and thought it up quick,’”
Hanger also said he received notice from a DEP official who told him the agency would reopen its investigation.
While the Secretary of the DEP, the agency found that another gas drilling company, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, was responsible for the methane migration that affected water wells in the Carter Road area of Dimock Twp. A nine-mile drilling moratorium was then put in place that remains in effect.
Hanger declared at that time that Pennsylvania American Water Company would construct a 12-mile water line from Montrose to Dimock Twp.; and Cabot would be made to pay for the line.
The project was dropped, however, after it was met with resistance by a group of Dimock residents that organized to oppose the water line and legal action was initiated by the Borough of Montrose.
The borough stood in opposition to the water line because its source would be Lake Montrose arguing a capacity study had not been performed by the water company that guaranteed an adequate supply of water in the lake to handle the number potential users along the proposed route in addition to the Montrose customers.