Pennsylvania residents sue Range Resources over drilling they say tainted their water

MarketsAssociated Press

A couple who say their water was contaminated by natural gas drilling and leaks from a drilling wastewater pond near their property have sued oil and gas company Range Resources.

The lawsuit by Christopher and Janet Lauff, of McDonald, contends they had to forgo well water and connect to a public water line, for which they've not been compensated by Range Resources Corp.

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The Fort Worth, Texas-based drilling firm was still evaluating the lawsuit but had "not seen any evidence of health or environmental impacts," its spokesman Matt Pitzarella said.

"In a more broad sense, we always look for ways to address concerns of the community as it relates to our work, and this location is no different," he said.

The Lauffs contend they lost use of their well water in 2010 after Range began a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at several wells within 1,000 feet of their property in McDonald, in southwest Pennsylvania. Fracking involves pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow. The Lauffs said a wastewater pond next to their property amounted to "a regional toxic waste dump site for over 190 wells."

The Lauffs said there were collateral problems from the nearby drilling operations ranging from excessive truck traffic and noise to flooding and erosion they blame on stormwater runoff from the drilling complex.

The wastewater pond, also known as a drilling impoundment, is one of several that prompted a consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Protection under which Range agreed to pay $4.15 million in fines.

The Lauffs contend the impoundment that affected their property was built incorrectly and too close to a creek.

The lawsuit also targets some property owners who leased their land to Range and several other companies connected to the drilling or a pipeline that carries natural gas from the Range drilling site.