For those seeking the information, potential motive and facts about the Dimock Episodes, this is an informative article providing a more intimate view of the events from a local perspective. It would be safe to say, it is about the money, sadly it is always about the money. What does that say about NY politics? JLCpulse.
By Jim Grimsley and Ann VanLenten of Dimock Proud Website
Dimock Township Landowners
Jim and I are residents of Dimock Township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. We would like everyone to know how the “DIMOCK” horror began and how it has evolved.
Following is the TRUTH as it happened.
January 1, 2009 – There was an incident of a buildup of methane in an underground pit that housed Norma Fiorentino’s water well in Dimock, PA. That methane buildup resulted in a sudden explosion causing the concrete cover, of the water well pit, to break. Immediately, newspapers across the nation published the news of the “explosion due to natural gas drilling”. THE TRUTH THAT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED: The concrete slab that covered the water well was brand new (previously, there were old wooden slats covering the well). It was a newly poured concrete slab that was tightly covered with a tarp (to help cure the new concrete since the outdoor mean temperature was only 12oF that day). The explosion was caused by an electrical spark triggered by the well pump pressure switch. The pressure switch was inside the water well pit (under the concrete slab). This incident was the beginning of the legal battle between 18 families and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and the beginning of anti-drilling groups coming to Dimock and, unfortunately the beginning of the destruction of the good name and reputation of the Township of Dimock and its inhabitants. QUOTE FROM LAWSUIT: “An explosion was caused to occur in an outside, below-grade water well pit on or about January 1, 2009 on the property of Plaintiff, NORMA FIORENTINO, causally related to accumulation of evaporated methane gas in her wellhead”. Sorry, but the facts bear out that the explosion was caused to occur due to a change made by the landowner. Most people know that a water well pit must be vented. In this case, the well pit was tightly sealed and as a result the migrating methane was trapped inside the pit. Methane gas accumulated until it reached an explosive level in Ms. Fiorentino’s unventilated/ confined space. Hence – the explosion.
Neither, Ms. Fiorentino nor her lawyers, have ever mentioned the facts leading up to the explosion but rather blamed Cabot Oil & Gas for it. We call this “lying by omission.” This lie was compounded by many other lies, half-truths, misinformation, and exaggerations by the Dimock litigants. It seemed that every week another accusation and abomination was added to the Dimock litigants’ story. Videos, interviews and anti-gas rallies mushroomed out of this one incident. Scare tactics were utilized and the general public was overcome with fear for themselves and sympathy for these 18 families.
The reason we have gone to such great lengths of detail regarding the explosion that started this whole issue is – the truth lies in the detail. One must know all the facts before one can come to a logical conclusion about anything.
NOVEMBER 20, 2009 – Press Conference Announcing Dimock Lawsuit ; 15 families vs Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. (More families jumped on board later.) THE TRUTH THAT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED: The lawsuit was not just about contaminated water. The litigants wanted to be released from their signed lease agreements and be able to renegotiate a sign-on bonus that conformed to those that were signed by land owners years later – at up to 200 times greater dollar amounts (not 200%) – at $5,000 an acre or better; including a higher royalty percentage than 12.5%. QUOTE FROM LAWSUIT: In order to obtain the legal right to drill on Plaintiffs’ property, and extract natural gas from Plaintiffs’ property, Cabot obtained from each of the Plaintiffs an executed oil and gas lease agreement and addendum thereto (hereinafter referred to as “gas lease”). Each gas lease was solicited by a representative of Cabot who came to each of the Plaintiffs’ homes, unannounced, commencing in 2006. The gas leases were not negotiated at “arm’s length”.
JANUARY 19, 2012 – At the request of 11 residents, the EPA announced it would perform water sampling at approximately 60 homes in the Carter Road/Meshoppen Creek Road area of Dimock, PA to further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns.
MARCH 15, 2012 – 1st Set of EPA Water Tests – 11 wells – water is safe to drink.
APRIL 6, 2012 – 2nd Set of EPA Water Tests – 20 wells – water is safe to drink.
APRIL 20, 2012 – 3rd Set of EPA Water Tests – 16 wells – water is safe to drink.
MAY 11, 2012 – 4th Set of EPA Water Tests – 12 wells – water is safe to drink.
JULY 25, 2012 - In Final Action EPA Declares Dimock Water Safe.
“PITTSBURGH (AP) — July 25, 2012 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it has completed tests on drinking water in the northeastern Pennsylvania village of Dimock and has determined it is safe to drink, despite the claims of some residents who say it has been polluted by gas drilling.”
And still this handful of families living on or near Carter Road, in Dimock Township, claimed to have been abandoned by:
- Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (while testing the litigants’ water and attempting methane migration remedies the litigants promptly stopped Cabot personnel from entering their properties, disconnected the water treatment systems, and demanded potable water be delivered to their homes);
- their neighbors (we quashed the plan to use public financing to build a waterline costing $11.8 million that would span 12.5-miles to supply municipal water to 18 familes in Dimock);
- their Township (we told Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan to go home – we don’t need his water);
- the PA Department of Environmental Protection (who mandated Cabot to deliver potable water to 11 homes while the DEP tested their water and reviewed Cabot’s test results;
- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (who tested and retested their water and came up with the same results as the PA DEP and Cabot – The water is fine).
Concurrently, while everyone was awaiting the final EPA results, the lawsuit against Cabot was quietly being settled out of court. We believe the private settlement was reached in June 2012. Among others, the loudest, most vulgar, and most visible litigants (Craig and Julia Sautner) settled with Cabot.
August 2012 – The Sautners sold their house, with 3 acres, in Dimock for $167,500.
August 21, 2012 – The Sautners bought a house, with 36.01 acres, in Berkshire, NY for $212,500. Their new home has a private water well and guess what !!!! Their home is fueled by NATURAL GAS! The property also includes transfer of a mineral, oil and gas lease held by Talisman Energy U.S.A. Corporation. Isn’t that a kick. Now tell me – if you truly suffered with health issues due to contaminated water caused by gas drilling, would you ever again buy property with a gas lease???? Of course not.
So much for Craig & Julia the environmentalists. They appeared on TV, at NY town meetings, anywhere and everywhere on the internet, saturating the media with their outrageous claims until they got what they wanted – their big payday – leaving turmoil and chaos behind and we have to clean up their mess.
The so-called Anti-Fracking Groups must feel like fools for believing the Sautner saga. I hope someone tells them that their poster children have defected.
The reputation of the Town of Dimock has been put through the ringer by the Sautners and the rest of their crew. We’ve been harassed, belittled, blamed, verbally abused, etc. (see dimockproud.com for verification). We kept saying that the litigants were keeping their lawsuit alive in the “court of public opinion,” but no one would listen to – or believe us.
Good luck to the Town of Berkshire (especially the neighbors around 458 Ford Hill Road) and to Talisman Energy U.S.A. Corporation.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak out. Most websites or newspapers do not extend that courtesy because our story is nothing more than the truth and the simple truth does not ordinarily make the headlines – We’re still asking ourselves: Why wouldn’t anyone listen?