Video: Natural gas blow back in Bradford county

Frac fluid spills from well for 20 hours at Chesapeake site near Canton. Fluid flowed into a creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna. For more details, see,0,1884646.story

Gas Pains….in Frackland

Here’s a new blog by a reporter from Voices in Center County, PA.

Her first post is the article that just came out in the April issue. This article is full of stories from a variety of places in PA and really brings some tough questions to the forfront of what other papers are only skirting around.

Floodplain well permit violation

Muncy Creek floodplain, north of Tivoli, flooded on January 25th.

By February 21st,  XTO had a well in full operation.

Last spring, under pressure from the gas industry to speed up the permitting process, DEP took the permitting for land disturbance and run off away from the county conservation districts.  It is quite doubtful if the county’s conservation district would have permitted this site.

Although DEP took over this function they didn’t have the man power to actually do it. To compensate, any disturbance less than 5 acres can receive a permit, sight unseen, by the developer submitting plans from their own engineers.  Most well pads are less than 5 acres.

When this well is fracked, 18,000 to 20,000 gallons of toxic concentrated chemicals, (hydrochloric acid, biocides, petroleum distillates, methanol, a variety of alcohols, ethylene glycol and much more) will be brought on to this floodplain and mixed. Any spillage will end up in the creek.  Do spills happen? Ask the 17 cows in Louisiana who died horribly last spring after drinking chemicals that spilled into their pasture from an adjacent well.

Below is an excerpt from a joint letter from Trout Unlimited and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation decrying the situation.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Trout Unlimited

Call for Ban on Marcellus Gas Wells in Floodplains

Hydrofracking in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen

(HARRISBURG, PA)  —  In the rush to develop the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania, natural gas wells are being permitted and drilled in floodplains. Two such wells, one operated by Stone Energy along Wyalusing Creek in Rush Township, Susquehanna County, and one operated by XTO along Muncy Creek in Shrewsbury Township, Lycoming County already experienced flooding events.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Trout Unlimited (TU) call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remedy this clear environmental and public health hazard.

“The handling of fracking chemicals and highly contaminated drilling wastewater in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.  It has to stop,” said Matt Ehrhart, executive director of CBF’s Pennsylvania Office.  “Permitting well pads in floodplains causes a very serious threat of pollution.  We call upon DEP to use its authority under the Clean Streams Law to order the companies operating these wells to permanently cap and abandon them, and then reclaim the sites to their natural condition.” (excerpt RDA)

Waterdog Update

Here’s an update on the Waterdog training coming up this month. Don’t forget to call Erika and let her know you are coming to the training. Contact me if you need her number.

Hello Waterdogs,

I wanted to let everyone know that I have finally confirmed the location for the Advanced Waterdog Training!!  It is Saturday, February 27, from 9-12 at the Ives Run Recreation area at the Tioga Hammond Lakes.  It will be held in the Visitor’s Center/Ranger Station.

This training is for current waterdogs only – but I only have some of the emails!!  I will be mailing out other fliers for those that I don’t have emails – so if you could please send this on to someone that you know is already a waterdog I would really appreciate it.  Also I have cards for everyone – I have redone the cards if you have already received one – they are more wallet friendly!!  So please let me know one way or the other if you are coming to the training – if you are not planning to attend the training I will mail your Id card to you.

Thank you,

Erica Tomlinson

Watershed Specialist

Tioga County Conservation District

DEP Fines Atlas $85,000 for Violations at 13 Well Sites

DEP Fines Atlas $85,000 for Violations at 13 Well Sites

PITTSBURGH — The Department of Environmental Protection today announced that it has fined Atlas Resources, LLC $85,000 for violations of the Oil and Gas Act, the Clean Streams Law; and the Solid Waste Management Act at 13 well sites in Fayette, Washington, and Greene counties.

“Development of Pennsylvania’s natural gas resource is important to the state’s economy. However, that development need not — and will not — come at the expense of our environment,” said Southwest Regional Director George Jugovic Jr.  “DEP will ensure that Pennsylvania’s gas resources are developed in an environmentally sound manner, consistent with the law.”

The violations, which occurred between Dec. 8, 2008, and July 31, 2009, fall into three categories:

• Atlas failed to implement and maintain erosion and sedimentation control measures to prevent off-site discharges of silt-laden runoff onto the ground at six well sites;
• Atlas failed to restore two well sites by establishing the appropriate perennial vegetative cover within nine months of completion of drilling; and
• Atlas discharged residual and industrial waste, including diesel fuel and production fluids, onto the ground at seven of the 13 well sites.

For more information, visit or call 412.442.4000.

Editor’s Note:  Following are the names, permit numbers and host municipalities of the wells at which the violations occurred.

• Burchianti 30, Permit No. 37-059-24476-00, Monongahela Township, Greene County
• Burchianti 41, Permit No. 37-059-24616-00, Monongahela Township, Greene County
• Groves 8, Permit No. 37-059-25160, Cumberland Township, Greene County

• Willis 18, Permit No. 37-059-24708, Cumberland Township, Greene County
• Carter 2, Permit No. 37-059-24111-00, Cumberland Township, Greene County
• Penarnik 8, Permit No. 37-059-24555-00, Cumberland Township, Greene County
• Eckerd 1, Permit No. 37-125-23779-00, Deemston Borough, Washington County
• Henderson 7, Permit No. 37-051-24077-00, Jefferson Township, Fayette County
• Redman 30, Permit No. 37-051-24231-00, Washington Township, Fayette County
• Thompson 32, Permit No. 37-051-23746, Nicholson Township, Fayette County
• Thompson 33, Permit No. 37-051-23747, Nicholson Township, Fayette County
• Dancho-Brown 4, Permit No. 37-051-24152, Redstone Township, Fayette County,
• Kovach 34, Permit No. 37-051-24225, German Township, Fayette County.

NCRO Weekely Report Nov 23rd-Dec 4th 2009



Issues Requiring the Governor’s (or Governor’s staff) ACTION

Nothing new to report

Issues Requiring the Governor’s (or Governor’s staff) ATTENTION

Nothing new to report

Management and Productivity

Nothing new to report

Recovery Activities

Nothing new to report

What’s Hot/Major Actions

IntelliWatt Renewable Energy, Mount Carmel Township, Northumberland County: On Nov. 17, IntelliWatt submitted the complete response to the third deficiency letter sent by the Air Quality program for their plan approval application to construct a 12.5 megawatt wood biomass fired combustion turbine.  DEP staff provided guidance to IntelliWatt regarding the emissions calculations and suggested that IntelliWatt reduce carbon monoxide below 100 tons per year from the proposed project in order to move from a major to a minor facility.  Air Quality program staff is currently finalizing the technical review of the plan approval and hopes to submit a notice of intent to issue for publication within two weeks.  (Muhammad Zaman 570-327-0512)

First Quality Products, Wayne Township, Clinton County: On Nov. 16, the Air Quality Program received a plan approval application from First Quality Products for a new production line for adult incontinence products.  The volatile organic compounds and particulate matter emissions are major concerns for the proposed project.   Particulate matter emissions will be controlled by a three-stage, high-efficiency dust collector. (Muhammad Zaman 570-327-0512)

Susquehanna Health System/Williamsport Hospital, City of Williamsport, Lycoming County: Susquehanna Health submitted an Air Quality plan approval application for construction a 1.9 MW co-generation unit at its Williamsport campus.  The project has received a $1 million PEDA grant funded by ARRA.  The application review is complete and draft plan approval conditions sent to the Pa. Bulletin for public comment.  The notice should be published on Dec. 5.  Unless there are significant negative comments, the plan approval may be issued the week of Jan. 4, 2010.  (David Aldenderfer 570-327-3648)

Northeastern ITS LLC, Mercer, Venango, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Centre, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Columbia, Schuylkill, Lehigh and Northampton Counties: On Nov. 30, the Watershed Management program received responses from Northeastern ITS to DEP’s Chapter 102/NPDES technical deficiency letter for this fiber optic line project.  Staff is presently reviewing these responses and completion is anticipated this week.  Eight of twelve Chapter 105/Water Obstruction and Encroachment permit applications were published in the Nov. 28 edition of the Pa. Bulletin.  The 30-day public comment period for these applications has now commenced.  (John Twardowski 570-321-6523)

White Pines Landfill, Pine Township, Columbia County: On Nov. 30, an employee of White Pines Corporation notified the Waste Management program that the Borough of Millville told the White Pines Landfill on Nov. 27 to cease discharging leachate to the borough’s sewage treatment plant.  The landfill was verbally informed by the borough that it was in violation of the Landfill Leachate Treatment Agreement by exceeding concentration levels for copper. White Pines has requested permission to temporarily truck leachate to the Montgomery Borough wastewater treatment facility and to store greater than 25 percent of total leachate capacity on-site, which DEP intends to approve.  The department will inform White Pines Corporation that if it cannot resolve the issues with Millville Borough, it will have to submit to DEP within 60 days a permit modification application with plans to modify its leachate treatment plan.  (Patrick Brennan 570-327-3651)

Sandy Ridge Wind LLC, Taylor and Rush Townships, Centre County, and Snyder Township, Blair County: On Nov. 23, the Watershed Management program held a public meeting and a public hearing on an NPDES stormwater construction permit application submitted by Sandy Ridge Wind LLC. About 50 people attended the two sessions with equal balance between supporters and opponents of the project. There were nine people who testified at the public hearing, with seven opposing the project and two in favor of it.  This permit application was submitted in June, and a second technical deficiency letter was sent to the applicant last week.  (David Garg 570-321-6581)

Potential Problems/Potential Major Actions

Emergency Response, Stevens Township, Bradford County: On Nov. 20, Emergency Response Team Member Dave Engle responded to a report of discoloration in Rockwell Creek in Stevens Township.  Engle determined that Johnson’s Quarry was disposing of saw yard dust in a manure impoundment on property owned by Salanka.  The impoundment was breached and discharging to Rockwell Creek.  Engle documented the release for compliance action and the incident was referred to the Water Management program for follow-up.  (Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Emergency Response, Armenia Township, Bradford County: On Nov. 22, Assistant Emergency Response Manager John Erich responded to a 6,000 gallon spill of frack flow back water to the well pad by Fortuna Energy in Armenia Township.  Erich documented the release for compliance action and addressed control measures to stop the release from entering a wetland.  The incident was referred to the Oil and Gas program for follow-up.

(Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Good News/Major Accomplishments

Nelke #1 Orphan Gas Well Plugging and Abandonment Project, Delmar Township, Tioga County: Well cleanout operations have been in process with the service rig through Nov. 20.  The well bore has been cleaned out to about 4,000 feet deep.  Diagnostic logs were run and evaluated.  A mechanical plug was set at a depth of 4,000 feet and a cement plug placed on top.  The plugs appeared to stop the gas flow to the surface.  Plugging operations are currently shut down to monitor the well and plug seal.  Uphole plugging should resume Dec. 7.  (Bruce Jankura 814/342-8134)

GEC Enterprises Inc./Sandra Cooper, Richmond Township, Tioga County: On Nov. 18, the Waste Management program issued a $15,000 civil penalty to GEC Enterprises Inc. and Sandra Cooper for violations of the Pa. Solid Waste Management Act.  Sandra Cooper is the president of GEC Enterprises Inc. and GEC operates The Sign Shop located in Richmond Township. During a March complaint investigation at The Sign Shop, Waste Management staff observed the burning of solid waste in a burn barrel at the business and there was a container of hazardous waste that was not properly labeled.  James Cooper, president of The Sign Shop, informed DEP that hazardous waste generated at the facility is normally disposed at his brother’s body shop at another location or burned at his residence with his household trash, both of which constitute illegal disposal.  Samples were collected from the ash in the burn barrel and the analytical results indicated that toluene was present in the ash.  During the investigation, Waste Management staff found that toluene is used to clean painting equipment at the facility.  James Cooper eventually disposed of the ash from the burn barrel as a hazardous waste and all issues have been resolved at the site.  (James E. Miller 570-327-3431)

Francis J. Palo Inc., Lamar Township, Clinton County: On Nov. 18, the Waste Management program received a $1,652 civil penalty from Francis J. Palo Inc. for the unpermitted burning of solid waste.  While in the field on Sept. 16, Waste Management staff observed black smoke blowing from the old Valley Ag and Turf property in Lamar Township. During the investigation, DEP staff learned that employees of Francis J. Palo Inc. were burning solid waste in a burn barrel at the site.  Palo later informed DEP that the solid waste being burned was office waste from an office trailer that Palo was maintaining for the PennDOT roadway inspector.  Palo removed the burn barrel and disposed of the ash.  Additionally, Palo will be conducting training for its employees regarding unpermitted burning of solid waste.  (James E. Miller 570-327-3431)

Thomas Benjamin, Benton Township, Columbia County: On Dec. 3, the Waste Management program received the final payment of a $1,382 civil penalty from Thomas Benjamin for violations of the Pa. Solid Waste Management Act.  During an April complaint investigation at Benjamin’s property in Benton Township, DEP staff observed that Benjamin had dumped about 125 cubic yards of construction/demolition waste that consisted primarily of shingles and dry wall and had also burned solid waste.  Also, there were about 100 waste tires dumped on his property in another location.  Benjamin told DEP that the solid waste at the dump was from three separate roofing jobs.  He cleaned up the solid waste and disposed of it properly using a licensed waste hauler.  (James E. Miller 570-327-3431)

Outreach/Upcoming Events

Lycoming County Oil and Gas Committee Meeting, Loyalsock Township, Lycoming County: On Nov. 19, Emergency Response Manager Gerald McKernan attended the Lycoming County Oil and Gas Committee meeting at the Lycoming County Emergency Operations Center in Loyalsock Township.  The meeting focused on industry input on safety training for responders and event categorizing for response levels.  Industry representatives from Anadarko, Chief Oil and Gas, East Resources, KTO, Pa. General Energy, and Range Resources were represented at the meeting.  Several others sent letters of support.  The intent is to develop a training program for emergency service organizations responding to drilling and pipeline incidents.  (Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Act 2

MK Express/Altmire Trucking Act 2 Site, College Township, Centre County: On July 23, an MK Express/Altmire Truck crashed on U.S. Route 322 during a heavy rainstorm and lost about 20 to 50 gallons of diesel fuel to the soil along the shoulder of the road.  Emergency personnel placed absorbent booms near stormwater drains to prevent any further contamination.  Minuteman Spill Response excavated more than 59 tons of contaminated material and five confirmatory soil samples were collected from the excavation.  All soil samples came back below DEP’s Statewide Health Standard, and an Act 2 relief of liability for the Statewide Health Standard for soil was granted on Nov. 25. (Randy Farmerie 570-327-3716)

Steam Valley Sunoco Act 2 Site, Lewis Township, Lycoming County: On Nov. 20, the Environmental Cleanup program approved a Remedial Action Completion Report submitted on behalf of Sunoco Inc. for the former Steam Valley Sunoco facility, which documented the remediation of a 1997 unleaded gasoline release. A Statewide Health Standard was attained for gasoline constituents in soil and groundwater, and an Act 2 relief of liability was granted for the regulated substances identified in the report.  (Steve Webster 570-327-3429)

NPDES Majors Backlog Status

Number of Overdue Permits-0

Number of Permits Issued This Week-0

Number of Permits Newly Expired This Week-0

(Chad Miller 570-327-3639)

Items for the DEP Planning Calendar

EQB Public Hearing—Outdoor Wood-Fired Boiler Regulations

December 3 at 1 p.m.


I-99 Partners Meeting

December 10 at 10 a.m.

Patton Township Building

Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority LMIP Meeting

December 10 at 2 p.m.


(Daniel Spadoni 570-327-3659)

Cabot Oil Acts on PA Orders

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.