Gas Bubbling from the Susquehanna River

Gas Bubbling from River at Sugar Run – by David Keeler – 9/2/2010

Click here for video clip

DEP has proposed tougher standards for Oil & Gas drilling.

The Public Comment Meetings are finished and there are only about ten days to get in your comments by e-mail.

These regulations call for more stringent standards for O&G drilling operations.

These regulations are vital.  They upgrade requirements for testing, well casing, welding, cementing and other steps to prevent blowouts, migration of gas and release of fluids which could contaminate our waterways and aquifers.

The public comment period will end on 8/09/10.

If you missed the hearings, please submit your official written testimony via

or via USPS at

Environmental Quality Board

P.O. Box 8477 Harrisburg PA  17105-8477

·        Be sure to use subject heading “CH 78 Regulations”

and  include your full name and address.

Talking points – Choose the topics most important to you:

  • Safety – Marcellus depths and pressures are so far beyond what was “normal” in the 1980’s, we must upgrade the Oil & Gas regulations to ensure safety.
  • Prevent stray gas migration [ contaminating local waterwells]

·        Cementing – Use Texas standards

DEP’s definition for cement sets a 24-hour compressive strength standard of at least 500 psi; however, other states, such as Texas, have found that standard insufficient to prevent vertical migration of fluids or gas behind pipe. Texas requires an additional 72-hour compressive strength standard of at least 1,200 psi across critical zones of cement.

·        Cementing – Upgrade the details

Ensure better cementing by documenting the chemical composition of the mixture. Expand the “cement ticket” definition to include:

(a) a requirement for the operator to test the mixing water pH and temperature and note it on the cement ticket (this is standard industry practice and aids in determining cement quality);

(b) a record of the Waiting on Cement [WOC] time, which is the time required to achieve the calculated compressive strength standard before the casing is disturbed in any way.  Allow no shortcuts.

  • Protection of Water Supplies –

DEP must clarify  §78.51 to explain what constitutes an adequately restored or replacement water supply for homeowners.  There should be a set timeframe for acting upon a complaint filed by a landowner.

Revise §78.51(c) to read: Within 24 hours of the receipt of the investigation request, the Department will send a technical team to the field site to examine the situation and determine whether immediate action is needed to shut down operations.

·        Blowout Preventer –

Blowouts are very serious work safety, and environmental situations. Blowouts may result in human injury, fire, explosion, oil spills and gas venting.  Suggestion:  Require all wells to be drilled with a Blow-Out Preventer once the surface casing is installed and cemented.  No exceptions.

§78.72 (c)  requires BOP controls to be accessible during an emergency; this is logical.  However, the regulation should also require that the operator to place the BOP controls on the rig itself.  BOP controls need to be accessible both on the rig and at a location a safe distance away from the drilling rig.   Recent accidents show the need for this.

“Safe” = absence of risk.  While it is not possible to eliminate all the risks inherent in drilling, we have to ensure that the standards are as bullet-proof as we can make them.  There should be no “weasel clauses” that allow misinterpretation, no omissions, no compromises because of industry arm-twisting or whining that DEP is “unfriendly”.

Your statements are needed so the IRRC can see strong public support for the new DEP CH 78 regulations.

.   .     Remember, it is the Department of Environmental Protection.


DEP’s proposed regulations are at:

If you have questions regarding details from any of our mailings, please contact immediately.

What We Dont Know

End of the year story from propublica.

Taking Cabot to Court

Here is a bit of a follow up article from the Star Tribune about the folks who have the water pollution problems in Dimock, PA. Note that the same company, Cabot Oil & Gas, that had the spills in the Dunkard Creek area is the culprit here as well. (This company just seems to be terrible at what they do…) Much of the problem extends from the land owners not being aware of the possibility of gas migrations into their wells or homes, in part because the gas company choose to leave that important bit of information out of their spiel when encouraging land owners to sign leases. Who’s at fault? The gas company for not explaining and disclosing this info or the land owners for not being better educated about what drilling for natural gas entails? Whatever is decided, the people of Dimock, PA are most likely due some sort of retribution. I find it frustrating that a price tag can be placed on the value of people’s health and homes and that these companies have no problem paying folks off if they can. (Go check out  Split Estate if you haven’t yet) Honestly, I think Cabot Oil & Gas needs to throw in the towel and go find some other business to venture in. They seem to be wrought with problems due to negligence, greed and incompetence in everything they do! I mean, if you can’t get the ball in the hoop, don’t play basketball for a living.

Natural Gas Migration

This page offers a good look into what’s called natural gas migration. This is an occurrence of the gas escaping from the rock reservoir, a pipeline, a well or a coal seam. If you read the info at this link you’ll find some explanation for some of the problems people have been having with methane leaking into their homes and water wells.

As far as my personal experience goes, I know there have been cases of water wells contaminated by methane gases in Tioga County before the gas drilling began in full. For this reason I think it is very important to make sure you have your water tested prior to having a well put in. If your water was fine before a well and after the gas well is put in you have problems with methane, it will be tough to prove this to the company who drilled your well with out having a water test that is dated prior to the gas well. I would attempt to put something in a lease agreement that has the energy company pay for the water testing as well as be responsible for fixing any problems that arise, including the methane gas.