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Range Blasts Media Coverage of Pennsylvania Contamination Case

Range Resources Corp. says it is complying with a court order to obtain and provide information for all of the chemicals used at a Marcellus Shale drilling and impoundment site in Washington County, PA, but it took issue with media reports suggesting that the company doesn't know what chemicals are used in its hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella confirmed to NGI's Shale Daily that the company has contacted dozens of service companies and subcontractors to satisfy an Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) order in the case Kiskadden v. DEP (Docket No. 2-11-149-R). The plaintiffs allege Range's Yeager site in Amwell Township contaminated their groundwater.

"They're asking for everything that was on the locations, not everything that was pumped down the hole [for fracking]," Pitzarella said Thursday. "We're obtaining information for things like the fluids that were used in engine pumps. It's literally the full spectrum, and it is simply going to take time to obtain all of that information."

Pitzarella took issue with recent reports by the Huffington Post and EnergyWire, an online publication of E&E Publishing LLC. Both reported that Range was unaware of the chemicals used in fracking.

"It's like being asked if you're married and you say 'yes,' and then you're asked if you have a copy of your marriage certificate on you and you say 'no, but I will get it to you.' Then they write a headline that says your marriage is in question," Pitzarella said.

Court records show Range has contacted several manufacturers -- including units of BP plc, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp. and Phillips 66 -- in order to comply with EHB Chief Judge Thomas Renwand's order to provide information on the chemicals. Many of them responded this past March.

Pitzarella said some of the manufacturers declined to disclose information on their chemicals, stating that it was proprietary information. He said the companies couldn't be compelled to do so unless they were either named as defendants in the Kiskadden case or were sued separately. But he expected that all of the companies would eventually respond in some fashion.

"Regardless, we're very confident in what the outcome will be," Pitzarella said. "We're fine with supplying and providing that information. But what's important to note is that the state DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] and the federal EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] have all determined that the air and water is safe [at the Kiskadden property] and within recommended levels and standards."

Last November, state Rep. Jesse White (D-Cecil) accused the DEP of fraud and misconduct by not disclosing the results of tests for 16 metals in water samples taken in the Kiskadden case. Michael Krancer, who was DEP secretary at the time, condemned White and vehemently denied the accusations (see Shale Daily, Nov. 19, 2012; Nov. 5, 2012).

The Yeager site is also the target of a separate lawsuit in Washington County Common Pleas Court, Haney et al. v. Range Resources et al. (Case No. 2012-3534), who also allege Range's actions contaminated their drinking water (see Shale Daily, May 31, 2012).

"There's nothing wrong with the air or the water, and at this point we've not seen any credible medical evidence that suggests that there's anything wrong with anyone," Pitzarella said. "There are actually more people that live closer to the facilities that don't have any reported issues.

"But it's unfair, in the middle of this process, to say that we either don't know or might not know [what chemicals we used], when the process is not yet complete."

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