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January 22, 2014

New tests find more methane in area water

(Continued)

Later, at the insistence of Republican congressmen who accused the EPA of needlessly going after the gas driller, the agency conducted an internal review.

That investigation sided with the EPA’s initial actions, and the Office of Inspector General in a report released Dec. 24 asked for additional measures to ensure there is no risk.

The EPA has shared Range Resources’ test results with the Railroad Commission but “no immediate next steps” are planned, said David Bloomgren, an EPA spokesman in Dallas, in an email. Officials from the two agencies met last week, Nye said.

Jackson, a Duke University professor, also specializes in isotopic analysis. He declined to share his study — funded by Duke and the National Science Foundation — until it is peer-reviewed and published, but some homeowners shared test results with the AP.

Jackson found higher levels of methane in some water wells — sometimes five to 10 times higher — than what Range Resources’ tests showed. In some cases, the levels are five times higher than the 10 parts per million per liter set as a threshold limit by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We’re seeing high methane concentrations and that result alone indicates to me that EPA closing the case was premature,” Jackson told the AP.

Range Resources declined to comment on Jackson’s findings, saying he has not shared the results.

Elizabeth Struhs, whose property abuts Lipsky’s, fears her family is in danger. Jackson’s samples found 17 parts per million of methane per liter of water in her well, while Range Resources said its tests did not detect any hazardous methane level.

“We had good water before they came here and we should have good water now,” Struhs said.

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