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June 19, 2011

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is investigating the source of methane contamination in residential water wells near natural gas drilling sites in Lycoming County, PA.

According to the Associated Press, the DEP has found flammable methane gas in seven water wells and bubbling in Little Muncy Creek near XTO Energy, Inc. natural gas drilling operations.

Lycoming resident Joyce Umstead told local news station WNEP that she set water coming out of her spigot on fire with a lighter.

If methane gas from the contaminated well water builds up inside the homes, it could cause an explosion.

The DEP and XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, are sampling resident’s well water supplies for testing.

"Our understanding is there has been a long history of methane present in the local water wells, long before recent drilling activities commenced," company representative Jeff Neu told WNEP.

Until the agency finds the cause of the well contamination, XTO Energy is venting affected water wells to prevent a build-up of methane and supplying those residents with water.

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