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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Upriver Municipalities May be Held Responsible For "Toxic Trespass"

Councilman calls for testing of water supply
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Months after spearheading legislation that bans natural gas drilling in Pittsburgh, city Councilman Doug Shields on Wednesday called for water testing to make sure gas production in the suburbs isn't fouling the city's water supply.

At Mr. Shields' request, council passed a nonbinding resolution calling on Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Pennsylvania American Water Co. to test their water sources for contaminants associated with drilling fluids.

Mr. Shields said the contaminants could enter the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers either through illegal dumping or through municipal wastewater systems. He said he was worried about pollution that could force officials to "put the city on bottled water."

In addition, Mr. Shields raised the possibility of introducing a bill that would hold upriver municipalities responsible for "toxic trespass" if they let drilling-polluted water flow into the city. He said such a law is in line with other anti-pollution measures already on the books.

"You're not allowed to dump anything over the hill. You have to clean up after your dog," he said.

Pennsylvania American and PWSA already have said they will test for contaminants related to Marcellus Shale gas drilling this year.

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