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High Levels Of Chloride Investigated At Cecil Twp. Marcellus Shale Site

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -– Environmental officials say they are looking into high levels of chloride found at a Marcellus Shale site in Cecil Township.

A letter, dated July 31, went out to people living along Swihart Road from the Cecil Township manager asking them to be vigilant about any changes in their water.

Early last month, Range Resources was testing a single ground-water monitoring well at Cecil Impoundment 23 and found elevated levels of chloride. Chloride is basically a salt.

"[It's] an ingredient that would come from drilling water, water that's used in fracking," John Poister with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said.

"We have probably 20 springs on this farm," farmer Joe Kirby said. "They've all been tested, the creek water's been tested. I have four operating wells..."

All Kirby's water is fine, and he'll know quickly if it's not.

"My cows do," he said. "I don't have to drink the water. If there's something wrong with it, they won't drink it."

The DEP will do its own testing.

"We've decided to go back down ourselves and conduct some additional ground-water monitoring tests," Poister said.

So far, the DEP has had no complaints from people living down the hill from the gas well impoundment, and if you did have excessive amounts of chloride in your water, you'd know it.

"If you have chloride in your water, you'd taste it and likely smell it, too," Poister said.

If there's a real problem, what might be the impact on health?

"It depends on how much [chloride] is in there," Poister said. "I don't think you'd want to drink salt water all the time."

Poister added this is something that people living in that area should know about. It's not something that people should worry about at this point. The DEP's test results should be back in 30 to 45 days.

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