Lawsuit Accuses Range Resources And Lab Of Doctoring Water Test Results

"A water testing company that worked with Range Resources to evaluate whether or not residential water supplies were contaminated is defending itself against a lawsuit that claims the company allowed the gas driller to alter a print out of the test results, which Range then submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP used the altered results, in part, to conclude that the Washington County residents’ drinking water was safe, and passed on the lab results to the residents. The family, John, Beth and Ashley Voyles, had also had their water tested as part of the EPA’s landmark fracking study, and say they agreed to the testing only if they would have access to the results. The EPA came to the opposite conclusion of DEP, advising the Voyles not to drink their water. Before receiving the test results, the Voyles had already stopped drinking their water, which they say made them sick.

The company, TestAmerica, has facilities across the U.S. and is a member of the industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition. The company’s website declares itself “the leader in environmental testing.” TestAmerica is defending itself against a civil lawsuit brought by the Voyles who say the company conspired with the gas driller to defraud them of accurate test results, which would have revealed dangerous contaminants. The accusations are part of a larger case against Range Resources, and attorneys representing TestAmerica will be in Washington County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday, in an attempt to get the company dismissed from the civil suit.

The incident that resulted in the contaminated water dates back to 2010, when fracking waste leaked from six impoundment tanks, penetrating soil and groundwater. The DEP ended up fining Range Resources $4.1 million in 2014 for the incident, but said at the time that drinking water supplies were not impacted. Since then, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in conjunction with the EPA, have told the residents the water is not safe to drink."

Susan Phillips reports for NPR/StateImpact Pennsylvania June 15, 2016.

Source: StateImpact Pennsylvania, 06/16/2016