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DEP: Wastewater Contamination Worse Than First Thought In Amwell Twp.

AMWELL TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- A clean-up is underway at the now-dry wastewater impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County.

The site is where brine from Marcellus Shale drilling has seeped into the soil, causing concern for folks who live nearby like Dave and Cathy Shanks.

"We are on well water. We use it for everything. We drink it. So, I have a concern that possible something got into our system," said Dave.

But now the state Department of Environmental Protection says the spread of chloride into the soil is more widespread than previously thought, requiring the excavation and disposal of more soil.

"At first, the estimates were in the low thousands of tons of soil, and now we're looking at as much as 15,000 tons of soil that will have to be taken out of there," said John Poister, of the DEP.

The DEP has also detected chloride in one of the on-site groundwater monitoring wells.

"Chloride in the ground water is something that was not there before, and we want to know how it got there and why and we want to see it remediated," said Poister.

Range Resources has hired a contractor to remove the soil, but in a statement indicates that the problem is small in scope. That the chloride, a non-toxic salt compound, did not spread far.

The statement says:

"We have confirmed through months of testing that the impact is only in the immediate area of where our inspectors first noticed a salt mark in the soil and has not impacted any drinking water sources in any way. We're not happy with this incident, but our approach is to learn what happened and make improvements."

The Shanks says Range has been responsive.

"They notified us of the situation up there, and they've since located our well, tested our well. We haven't received the results yet, but they've been responsive as far as I'm concerned," said Dave.

Even though Range believes the environmental impact is minimal, the gas exploration company says it will comply with any and all cleanup orders from state regulators and return this site to its previous state.

Range Resources Issued Violation For Leaking Impoundment (4/18/14)
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