Friday, March 20, 2015

Please Donate: Stand With Dimock Families During Their Jury Trial




Stand with Dimock families as they take their water contamination case to federal jury trial.  
 

There have been 119 Marcellus Shale wells drilled in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County.


We Need To Cover Trial Costs

UPDATE: Dimock PA families with water contamination will finally have their day in court against Cabot Oil & Gas, but only with your help. The federal jury trial will start on November 30, 2015 in the Scranton Federal Courthouse and will be the highest-profile court case related to shale gas development in history. Donations accepted here: www.tinyurl.com/SupportDimock

Energy Justice Network is the national non-profit managing the legal funds for the litigation. We have set a new goal for online fundraising of $17,500 by the end of July. We are soliciting large donors and foundations to meet our overall goal of $50,000, but we can't get there without the donations of so many of you to this campaign.

Remember, if you haven't claimed a perk yet (like the waterfall tour, dinner with the eagles, or a weekend in Promised Land State Park) summer is the perfect time to visit northeast Pennsylvania!

Right now, the Dimock plaintiffs are in discovery phase, the part of litigation where each side presents its expert witnesses, affidavits, and questions for each other.

We successfully raised enough to cover costs into July, but Cabot Oil has now been approved to depose nine expert witnesses in Houston TX in less than two weeks and the plaintiffs' attorneys and experts must be flown down to be present for those depositions. Our expert witnesses will be billing us additional time to prepare responses to Cabot's witnesses and we need this IndieGoGo campaign to cover the costs.

After discovery, the attorneys will be preparing for trial. Energy Justice Network is assisting with research at no cost, but this online fundraiser will be active until the trial date in November to make sure all costs are covered.

Again, please share this campaign to your friends and family using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the top.

Earlier this year, we completed this online fundraiser for $10,000, but the total trial costs will be at least $50,000.

Can you join the 256 donors who have already given and make a donation to the Dimock legal fund? All donations are tax-deductible.


Donations are still being accepted via our IndieGoGo fundraiser where you can sign up for great perks! Click here: www.tinyurl.com/SupportDimock

Donations of $1,000 or more can be made out to "Action Center Inc.", our 501(c)3 name, with “Dimock Legal” in the memo and mailed to Action Center Inc. 1434 Elbridge St Philadelphia PA 19149.



About the Court Case

Expert witnesses and knowledgeable attorneys are invaluable when presenting allegations of water contamination and damages before a court of law. Scott Ely, who has spoken out as a gas industry whistle-blower, his family, and their neighbors, the Huberts, are proceeding with a landmark federal lawsuit over drilling-related water contamination in Pennsylvania. In 2014, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs' case can proceed to trial, permitting jury selection.

The lawsuit entitled Norma Fiorentino et al vs Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation and Gas Search Drilling Services Corp. was brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (Civil No. 3:09-CV-2284) on November 19, 2009.  The case eventually included 22 families from Dimock and Springville Townships in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, who sought fair compensation for damages to their property and their lives caused by Cabot’s failed natural gas drilling operations.

Beginning in the fall of 2008, Dimock families with children noticed problems with their drinking water, and began to experience rashes, nausea, headaches and dizziness. A trigger point to the litigation was the explosion of an elderly resident’s private water well on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2008 due to methane gas accumulation in the well head.





Following the public announcement by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the summer of 2012 that the water was safe to drink, the vast majority of the families settled their lawsuits against Cabot. Two families, totaling four adults and five children, whose water wells were ordered permanently plugged by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in connection with Cabot’s drilling operations, did not agree to settle. A third non-settling case is that of the Estate of Kenneth Ely whose claim was dismissed by the Court and is being appealed.
The accuracy of EPA’s statement in 2012 that Dimock’s water was safe to drink was later called into question as a result of disclosure of contradictory statements contained in internal EPA documents.
The remaining plaintiffs in the case, which has now been re-captioned as Nolen Scott Ely, et al. v Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation et al., are Nolen Scott Ely and his family and Ray Hubert and his family. Ray Hubert and his family live up the hill from the Elys. The Ely family has lived in Dimock since the 1800’s.

Except for a two year period when Cabot supplied these plaintiffs with water, since 2008, the Elys and Huberts have been living without reliable access to water and under rationing conditions.  To survive day to day, these families haul water at their own expense every week for drinking, bathing and other daily basics. They purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking. The Court has recognized that these plaintiffs have a case against Cabot which they are preparing to present to a jury of their peers. The trial date is expected to be set in April, according to court documents.

In order to effectively try the case, the Elys and Huberts must retain expert witnesses including a hydrogeologist, an engineer, and property expert. Our administration fees include our accountant’s time and will be five percent of funds raised. Legal fees for attorneys will be paid with the remainder of funds.

We estimate that costs associated with the trial will be between $50,000 and $100,000. As part of our Energy Jutice Shale Initiative, which successfully raised $2,500 using IndieGoGo in the summer of 2014 to pay for the hydrogeologist’s professional time in preparing an affidavit, we are committing to raising $10,000 using the same crowdfunding method.

Water Contamination in Dimock

In 2008, well water in homes along Carter Rd went bad after Cabot Oil & Gas developed the first fracked wells in northeast Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined that well casing failures in the Baker, Gesford, Ratzel, and Ely wells had caused 17 water wells to become contaminated. Cabot subsequently signed a consent agreement admitting fault and began remediation to plug or repair the wells.

In 2011, HydroQuest's Paul Rubin, an expert hydrogeologist, determined in his initial findings that Scott Ely's water contained lead and manganese at 5.8 and 10 times State Maximum Contaminate Levels and arsenic at 15 times the State MCL level. He found aluminum concentration of 28 mg/l, some 140 times the State MCL.

Aluminum is a potent neurotoxin that may be linked to dementia, including Alzheimer’s like health symptoms. Similarly, iron was detected at 34 mg/l, some 113 times the State MCL Safe Drinking Water standard.

At the time, Mr. Rubin stated, "While all analyses have not been completed, preliminary findings also indicate the presence of low level hexanes, octanes, and decanes."

He added "However, the high pH of the water indicates the presence of SIGNIFICANT other frack - related chemicals that are both unknown and untested – chemical compounds that do not have MCLs – chemicals that potentially present long-term chronic exposure to toxins and carcinogens."

Rubin found that the pH of the water has repeatedly been found to be around 9.5 – a very basic water, some 10 times the normal outer MCL State drinking water standard range of pH 8.5 and, quite likely, 100 times that of a more normal Dimock groundwater pH. "This is highly unusual and extremely troubling. Something is VERY wrong with this water," he wrote in testimony offered at a press conference.

What We Need & What You Get

We need to raise more than $10,000 to begin to cover the costs of depositions (recorded testimony) of our experts and the company's witnesses.
  • For all donors, we will mention you in a video to thank you for your support.
  • You will be the first to know the progress on the Elys and Huberts landmark case.
  • You or your group will be welcome in Dimock for a private tour of fracking, related infrastructure, and to meet families with water contamination.

The Impact

If the Dimock case is successful, we will finally have some closure and compensation, in the best case scenario, would include a permanent water supply for at least the Ely family.

At the very least, the trial phase will expose information about Cabot's operations that have deprived Dimock families of there basic rights, such as clean drinking water.

Anyone interested in public health, environmental justice, and corporate accountability, should find our fundraiser a worthy cause.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can't contribute money, that doesn't mean you can't help. Please share this page and encourage your friends and family to donate.

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