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WPX Still Appealing PA Orders to Replace Families’ Water Supplies

WPX Energy Inc. has appealed all three of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) orders to permanently replace the water supplies of families that were impacted by problems at the company's impoundment in Westmoreland County in 2012.

In August, the DEP said it confirmed that the water supplies of three families were contaminated (see Shale Daily, Aug. 28). A water impoundment that once held fresh and treated water [corrected] is said to be the cause, but it remains unclear what caused the impoundment to fail. At the time the orders were issued, WPX appealed one of the orders and has been providing the families with drinking water since the families began complaining about fouled supplies in 2012.

"We did appeal the determination letters for the Latin and Geary water wells to the Environmental Hearing Board," said WPX spokeswoman Susan Oliver of the other two orders. "Despite the assertions of some local activists, we are well aware of our responsibilities."

Oliver said the company submitted a proposal to the DEP on Sept. 15 to ensure the three families have a fresh water supply. She said the company is still awaiting a response and did not provide details about that plan.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the agency is still demanding that WPX provide a permanent water source and made no mention of the company's recent proposal. "It's status quo at this point. We continue to wait rather impatiently because I think we just want to get this resolved."

Oliver said the company continues to supply the families with water on a monthly basis and added that the latest of ongoing water tests at the site being conducted by the company have shown "their water is basically back to, or better than, their pre-drill sample results."

Because the case is pending before the Environmental Hearing Board, Poister said he was unable to comment further.

WPX has drilled one well at the Kalp pad in Donegal Township, which the impoundment served. The well was spud in 2011. Asked if the company has any future development plans at the site, Oliver said "our CEO is conducting a total review of the entire company and he is set to announce the company's strategy for 2015 and beyond in the very near future."  

WPX is holding an investor conference on Thursday (see Shale Daily, Oct. 3). Most of the company’s activities are in the Rocky Mountains, and the company reported late Wednesday that it intends to focus its operations only on North Dakota, New Mexico and Colorado, with the balance of the portfolio, including Appalachia, on the sales block (see related story).

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