Map of PA drilling complaints - collaboration with Public Herald

PA Fracking Complaints are Increasing, Systemic

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) logs incoming complaints from residents about drilling activity in the Commonwealth, and Public Herald has spent a great deal of time aggregating and making that information public. A recent investigation by Public Herald into that data, with help from FracTracker, has highlighted a number of concerning issues related to fracking in Pennsylvania unfortunately.

Concerning Complaints

Firstly, the data they reviewed indicate that complaints from residents about unconventional drilling (how most fracked wells are designated) are more common than those about traditional wells. Secondly, it seems that complaints about fracked wells are increasing over time, even though the number of new wells has decreased.

There may be several reasons for such trends, and Public Herald discusses some of them in their new report. Are fracking wells more likely to fail, resulting in a higher proportion of complaints from nearby residents? Or has tracking simply improved in recent years? What these trends undoubtably indicate, however, is that the impacts from drilling have been systemic, according to Drs. Ingraffea and Stolz, who also reviewed the data.

Probably the most troubling finding unearthed in this investigation is that the PA DEP was not transparent about complaint data. The information they released to Public Herald differed wildly from the spreadsheets previously obtained by other requestors. Learn more about this and other issues in Public Herald’s Hidden Data Report.

Digging into the Data

Below we have included a map showing where those complaints originated, as well as a table that parses out the data by county.

Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Complaint Map

View map fullscreen | How FracTracker maps work

The above map by Public Herald and FracTracker Alliance shows the density of citizen complaints reported to the Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 – 2016. It includes conventional and unconventional well complaints. Clicking on a township reveals a database of complaints where viewers can download files.

In addition to the report issued by Public Herald, you can explore the data mapped above in the table below. It fleshes out how many complaints have been issued by residents, where these complaints originated, and how many are specific to water issues.

Table 1. PA Unconventional Well Complaint Statistics Logged by the PA DEP

DEP Office County Total Complaints (#) Water Complaints (#) Municipalities w/Complaints (#) Drilled Unconventional Wells, Jan 2004 – Nov 29 2016
PENNSYLVANIA 47 9442 4108 893 10027
SWRO 3653 1427 328 3587
NWRO 3197 1159 284 1027
NCRO (ERO) 2592 1522 281 5413
SWRO Washington 1066 460 51 1478
ERO Susquehanna 648 393 32 1326
ERO Bradford 647 468 43 1371
SWRO Greene 576 156 26 1082
NWRO McKean 550 121 21 134
SWRO Westmoreland 538 219 43 270
NWRO Warren 443 106 26 3
NWRO Butler 419 186 35 497
SWRO Armstrong 388 208 38 223
SWRO Indiana 367 153 32 48
ERO Tioga 349 212 30 907
SWRO Fayette 335 121 28 291
NWRO Mercer 276 153 31 61
NWRO Venango 273 108 25 6
NWRO Crawford 258 141 35 3
NWRO Jefferson 244 113 29 56
ERO Lycoming 242 110 32 927
SWRO Allegheny 228 30 53 100
NWRO Clarion 186 89 23 28
NWRO Forest 177 56 8 22
ERO Clearfield 175 70 34 150
ERO Wyoming 167 92 19 258
NWRO Erie 164 17 30 0
NWRO Elk 143 37 9 146
ERO Potter 108 60 25 91
ERO Sullivan 86 47 8 127
SWRO Beaver 67 44 25 62
NWRO Lawrence 64 32 12 71
SWRO Somerset 44 16 18 26
SWRO Cambria 43 20 13 7
ERO Clinton 40 16 8 107
ERO Bedford 36 25 7 1
ERO Centre 33 10 9 65
ERO Luzerne 19 1 10 2
ERO Wayne 14 4 7 5
ERO Lackawanna 6 3 3 2
ERO Columbia 5 1 2 3
ERO Blair 4 3 2 6
ERO Cameron 4 2 2 64
ERO Huntingdon 2 2 1 1

SWRO = Southwest Regional Office; NWRO = Northwest Regional Office; NCRO (ERO) = North Central/Eastern Regional Office. Find your office here.

Stay Tuned

Public Herald will be releasing Part 2 of their Hidden Data report soon!

3 replies
  1. frank repchick
    frank repchick says:

    On or around Oct. 2015, Mallard K1 gas well was fracked, we noticed that our water filter went from changing every 3 months to on month and then as time went on every two weeks and by Jan 2016 every 3 hours, we had notified DEP and Cabot of the major change in our water,Cabot sent out a company represent them,Moody and DEP sent out their guy. On Jan.27, 2016 DEP took samples and Cabot called to let us know Moody would be there that day,Cabot told me that they were putting down a well that was not near us as the source of pollution, i disagreed for many reasons and he insisted, not knowing anything about the dishonest ways of Cabot ,we continued and DEP put down the same false well.There were no issues with the water until the Mallard well was put in,it is drilled under us and when it was fracked it shook the house.we were told the water was safe to drink, i was sceptical so i put in another filter system and we drank the water for the remaining year of 2016. On Feb.22 2017 DEP took more samples and Moody on Feb.27, 2017 more water samples were taken Moody tried twisting our words. Clearly working for Cabot.My wife ,daughter and myself developed health issues that doctors were uncertain of why.All this time our water filters were black sludge ,Cabot denies all doing and has DEP in their pocket, a letter of no impact was issued on both times of taking samples.By all law and amended laws ,Cabot is assumed the cause and they are to provide drinking water and fix the problem,we have Addendum’s in our lease that says the same they have violated all, We need clean water. Now things around here have had issues people were harassing us to sell our house, i had people stopping to look at our house, It’s not for sale,finally i talked to one of them and end conversation was Cabot wants to put a gas well next to us because under us is one of the deepest pockets of Marrcellus in the world.They continue to pollute the water for money and have ignored all laws,I have contacted EPA and many others, however the greed and corruption is over riding the very people that are to protect us, two other wells that i know of were contaminated and paid off to shut up. Thank you and any insight or influence you could do or point to me would be a help. We are located in Forest lake twp. Montrose,PA 18801

  2. chuck shaw
    chuck shaw says:

    Thank you for your educational/research efforts. I find items of great interest in each of your email updates. I’ll send more money when I can.

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