A court opinion issued by Smith Butz LLC to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board shows that Range Resources failed to provide chemical information and MSDS to state authorities, and the opinion also shows that the natural gas corporation does not know the chemical composition of fracking fluid being stored at a well impoundment that has been at the center of controversy for the past couple of years.
The opinion issued by the law firm revolves around the Yeager well impoundment in Amwell, Pennsylvania. A November 2012 Post-Gazette story reports:
Finding them and certain volatile organic compounds in the water test results would link contamination of groundwater to gas well drilling and fracking operations, said John Smith, an attorney with Smith Butz, a firm representing eight people in the Washington County case against Range Resources and 12 of its subcontractors. Their case contends that they face serious health problems and increased cancer risk due to exposure to toxic chemicals in their air and well water near Range’s Yeager drill site in Amwell.
“Despite these significant health consequences, the DEP purposely never considered information concerning all of these metals in each of the plaintiffs’ water supplies before making any of its determinations and purposely failed to alert the plaintiffs to their presence,” said Mr. Smith in a court filing Wednesday.
The recently published court opinion, which can be seen below in it’s entirety, reports that Range Resources is in contempt of court for failing to disclose “all products and all chemicals within the produces used at the Yeager site.” The order also indicates that Range Resources “does not know and cannot determine all of the chemicals used at its drill sites and placed into the Pennsylvania environment is, in and to itself, almost inconceivable.”
Highlights from the report are as followed:
Range merely produced additional incomplete MSDS sheets that failed to disclose the full list of products, the chemical makeup and components of those products, and even failed to identify which specific products it used at the Yeager Site. (p. 4)
On August 16, 2013, at the request of Range’s counsel only four (4) days before Range’s responses were due, the Parties held a conference call with Judge Renwand during which Range indicated that it had not made progress obtaining the proprietary information that the Board ordered Range to produce. Counsel for Range explained that, despite diligent efforts, Range was unable to produce a list identifying the chemical constituents in the products used at the Yeager Site, including proprietary information, as ordered by the Board on July 19th. (p.9)
Range has continuously failed to produce information regarding all of the chemicals and components of those particular products and information identifying the proprietary chemicals in the products used at the Yeager Site since Appellant requested the information over a year ago in August 2012. (p.11)
Range admits that it did not have an all-encompassing knowledge of the complete chemical makeup of each chemical product used at the Yeager Site by Range and/or its subcontractors when Range conducted all of its investigations and made findings of water quality as some products contain proprietary compounds, which are not known to Range. However, Range does have a general working knowledge of the chemical makeup of the products used at the Yeager Site. To the extent currently possible, the MSDS for the various products used at the Yeager Site have been produced to Plaintiffs. (p14)
In addition to Range’s failure to produce relevant evidence during discovery and
inability to ascertain the identity of all of the products and chemicals it used at or brought to the Yeager Site, the Department (of Environmental Protection) is likewise unaware of all chemicals and components of all products, including the proprietary chemicals used at the Yeager Site. (p.15)
One can assume, based on Range’s failure for over a year to produce requested and
court-ordered information and the presence of known constituents that were used and spilled at the Yeager Site and present in Appellant’s drinking water, that the information could further establish that Range’s products used at the Yeager Site were comprised of chemicals that are present in Appellant’s drinking water supply.