By George Basler of the Star Gazette
DIMOCK, Pa. — Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. plans to comply “as quickly as possible” with an order from Pennsylvania state regulators so it can resume hydrofracturing operations in Susquehanna County, a company spokesman said Monday.
The company has been in contact with the Department of Environmental Protection to hold an administrative conference in the next seven days to discuss the steps that must be undertaken by Cabot, said company spokesman Ken Komoroski.
The DEP issued the order after three separate spills of a gel-like lubricant at the Heitsman site in a week. In a release issued, Sunday, Cabot said the first two spills were caused by failed piping connections between the frac tanks holding a fresh water supply and the equipment used to pump the fluid into the shale formation. The third spill was caused by a pressure surge that caused a hose to rupture.
The spills polluted a wetland and caused a fish kill in Stevens Creek, the department said.
“Three spills at one location is unacceptable to us,” Komoroski said.
To comply with the DEP order, Cabot has started work on engineering and safety reports, Komoroski said. They include preparing an updated Pollution Prevention and Contingency Plan and an updated Control and Disposal Plan within 14 days, and conducting an engineering study of all equipment and work practices at hydrofracturing well sites within 21 days.
Meanwhile, Dan O. Dinges, president and CEO of Cabot, said the company is committed to “the timely resumption of our fracking operations” and is working cooperatively with state regulators, even though it’s “disappointed” with the DEP order and disagrees with several of its allegations.
The DEP order, issued Friday, applies to a Heistman well site in Dimock Township, and seven other wells that Cabot is now drilling in Susquehanna County. Cabot can continue work to drill the wells.
Cabot has not calculated how much the work stoppage will cost the company, Komoroski said.
“Basically, we’re focused on incidence avoidance, not how much it’s costing,” he said.
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