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Pennsylvania Woman Wins Arbitration Case on Well Contamination

Thursday, February, 20, 2014


A Bradford County woman was recently successful using arbitration in her claim that Chesapeake Appalachia LLC had contaminated her well.  Jacqueline Place signed a 2008 lease with an arbitration clause requiring use of the American Arbitration Association as the forum for resolving any conflicts or claims related to Chesapeake operation damages. 


Later that year, Ms. Place hired someone to conduct baseline tests of her well water, which showed methane levels of 0.01 parts per million.  That test became the crux of her argument that Chesapeake had contaminated her water and made it unsafe to use.  The company completed drilling a well to extract gas from her land in 2009, and the bottom of her water well was approximately 80 yards from that location. 


In 2010, Ms. Place noted that her water had become reddish brown and oily, so she contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  When her baseline tests were conducted again, methane levels were up to 2,000 times higher in her water and she was told to not used the water.  Continued tests indicated that her water was still contaminated. 


The arbitrator on the case, Ross F. Schmucki, recognized that Ms.  Place had to live for ten months with a limited water supply when she could no longer access her well.  Chesapeake was ordered to pay her $59,381.42.  Place’s lawyer remarked that having baseline tests is essential for cases involving water contamination in order to show the influence of a particular event or company.