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Marcellus shale drillers, Pa. settle 3 cases of fouling water supplies, pay $374K

Pennsylvania environmental regulators said Tuesday they have settled citations against three Marcellus shale gas drillers and collected a combined $374,000 for water pollution cases dating to 2011 and 2012.

The citations involved faulty wells or equipment fouling water supplies in Bradford, Lycoming and Tioga counties with methane, the nontoxic but explosive gas that companies pull in record amounts from shale deep below the ground.

In one case, drillers at a Royal Dutch Shell-owned site in Tioga County hit an abandoned gas well, sending water 40 feet into the air from a former government seismic monitoring point. State officials have cited that incident as evidence of the need to require companies to take more steps to map such old wells, part of rule changes for drillers that the Department of Environmental Protection has proposed.

The companies involved signed agreements to settle the cases in June and July and have paid their fines, the department said.

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