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Range Blasts Misinformation in Contamination Case

October 14, 2013
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Range Resources Corp. said 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 hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations.

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

"They're asking for everything that was on the locations, not everything that was pumped down the hole [for fracking]," Pitzarella said. "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. 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."

Court records show Range contacted units of BP plc, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp. and Phillips 66, among others, to comply with EHB Chief Judge Thomas Renwand's order to provide information on the chemicals and several responded earlier this year. Pitzarella said some of the manufacturers declined to disclose chemical information because of proprietary information. The companies may not be compelled to comply unless they are named as defendants in the lawsuit or sued separately. Pitzarella said all of the companies are expected eventually to respond in some way.

"Regardless, we're very confident in what the outcome will be," he 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 NGINov. 19, 2012Nov. 5, 2012). The Yeager site is also the target of a separate lawsuit in Washington County Common Pleas Court, alleging that Range's actions contaminated drinking water (Haney et al. v. Range Resources et alNo. 2012-3534) (see NGIJune 18, 2012). 

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