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December 07, 2016
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Lawmaker accuses DEP of ‘deceptive’ practices; Marcellus Shale water testing at issue

The deposition about Suite Code 942 came from Taru Upadhyay, a technical director at the DEP Bureau of Laboratories. Kendra Smith, a lawyer representing well-owner Loren Kiskadden, who is suing Range Resources, wrote a letter to Michael Krancer, secretary of the DEP, about the matter. The letter said that the lab identified various amounts of molybdenum, boron, lithium, tin, cobalt, silicone, titanium, zinc aluminum and nickel in the well water of her client but, because of the Suite Code 942, the presence of those chemicals was not revealed to the DEP Oil and Gas Division or to Kiskadden.

The lawyer further wrote that the metals “have clearly and repeatedly in scientific studies been found as contaminants in oil and gas flowback and produced waters.”

A report on the incident posted by the pro-drilling group Energy In Depth said the chemicals in question have nothing to do with gas drilling.

The DEP initially determined that Kiskadden’s well, which is located near a junkyard he owns, had high levels of sodium and total dissolved solids, but that condition was not caused by the activity of Range Resources or gas drilling.

Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board ruled in May that Kiskadden could appeal the DEP determination.

Regarding Smith’s letter to Krancer, DEP wrote, “It is clear to any fair-minded person that this letter, which we received only today [November 1] and are reviewing, is an effort by a plaintiffs’ attorney to mislead and manipulate news coverage in an effort to litigate his cases in the press instead of the courtroom. This lawyer misrepresents the deposition transcripts by selective quotation and the lawyer either misunderstands how a laboratory functions or is intentionally misrepresenting how one does.”

In a second deposition related to the case, John Carson, a DEP water quality specialist, said Suite Code 942 is used across the state.