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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Drillers did not report half the spills...

 The state quarantined the cattle on Don Johnson's farm in 2010 after a leak of hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid from an East Resources well site on his property.

"Over the five months after she first found the spill, Ms. Weiland returned to the Millers’ farm as Chief dug up enough of the well pad to dispose of the contaminated soil she found only for Ms. Weiland to return and spot additional oily spots on the pad that had to be dug up. It took Ms. Weiland a dozen return inspections, a dozen phone calls, four soil samples and several emails in the four months after she first spotted the spill to get it properly cleaned up, which involved removing 2,200 tons of contaminated soil. Despite her repeated requests to identify exactly what was spilled, it took Chief five months to tell her that it was hydraulic oil. At a settlement conference with the state in April 2011, Chief officials “admitted they didn’t adequately handle the incident initially,” according to a state document. Ultimately, Ms. Weiland determined that it appeared that Chief had “intentionally buried” the spill with soil and rock something Chief denies and it was fined $180,000, one of the largest single-incident fines in the Marcellus era. [...]

In 28 incidents, the main reason for a fine was because a state inspector found “sediment-laden water” runoff at a well site. Such incidents are associated with inadequate erosion and sedimentation controls. The state considers these muddy runoff incidents to be potential pollution because they can damage surface and water environments by choking out vegetation or streams. Not one of the 28 runoff events that led to a fine was first reported by a driller, records show, and more than half of the runoff cases impacted a stream, pond or wetland; seven occurred in a specialty or high-quality watershed. In one of those cases, the state’s largest driller, Chesapeake, paid $215,000 (the second-largest fine in state history for a single incident tied to a well permit) after repeated warnings from state inspectors about erosion problems at a well site in the Pine Creek high-quality watershed in Potter County. During a rain and snow melt in March 2011, so much muddy runoff left the well site that the borough of Galeton had to close one of its two public water supply intakes on a stream for three months after the runoff choked its filters.

$180,000? $215,000? That'll fix those drillers, facing such stiff fines... . Chump change, the cost of doing bizness, laughable.  
We are in real trouble, fellow Pennsylvanians.