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PA regulators using incomplete water testing reports to dismiss claims of contamination

Environmental regulators in Pennsylvania regularly withheld results of drinking water tests while dismissing claims of contamination from hydraulic fracturing operations, according to testimony from a high-ranking official at the Department of Environmental Protection.

According to a high-ranking official at DEP, results sent to residents left out 16 of the 24 contaminants the DEP tested for.

The eight metals reported were: barium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium and strontium. Using the same suite, the report would not include results for silver, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, nickel, silicon, lithium, molybdenum, tin, titanium, vandium, zinc and boron.

The testimony came to light on Thursday when Jesse White, a Pennsylvania legislator, called for state and federal investigations into the DEP. From the press release:

This goes beyond incompetence; this is unlawful and reprehensible activity by the DEP. If these allegations are true, there needs to be a thorough and objective investigation to determine if someone belongs in a jail cell.

The DEP's Kevin Sunday told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the results omitted from reports sent to residents did not change the quality of the finding on whether or not gas drilling made the drinking water unsafe:

Our investigators request certain compounds be screened for in an analysis, in particular, those associated with oil and gas activities. The results of such an analysis are subject to quality control and quality assurance. That the lab is capable of doing additional analysis for a particular investigation doesn't mean that our analysis was inadequate or incomplete.

A bit of background on the Washington County civil case that brought this to light can be found here.

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