Saturday, September 19, 2009

Announcements Related to Natural Gas Development - Frac Water Treatment

Please note that these are NoT articles written by Brian Oram or B.F. Environmental Consultants, but timely articles from the area.

Announcement # 1

"Major natural gas permit on hold in Wayne County
Buckingham Township, Pa. -
A natural gas drilling company will have to wait to at least December - possibly longer - for its operations in Wayne County to move forward until a critical environmental permit is approved by the Delaware River Basin Commission. A special public meeting on Wednesday, September 23 in Pike County regarding a one-million-gallon per day water withdrawal permit has been postponed by the request of the applicant, Chesapeake Appalachia. The commission also said on Thursday that it will not vote on the permit at its October 22 meeting. The commission’s next meeting is in December - stalling the natural gas producer’s plans in Wayne County, if the request is even approved then. Chesapeake Appalachia, of West Virginia, is a major leaseholder here and in other areas throughout the Commonwealth including Bradford County, which has witnessed a drastic upsurge in drilling this year. Bradford County, however, is under the jurisdiction of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which has approved quite a few water withdrawal permits for the burgeoning natural gas industry there. Commission Spokesperson Clarke Rupert said on Friday that a date has not been set for the postponed public hearing.

The permit, originally submitted by the company in May, has been revised since then after the commission received innumerable comments - for and against - prior to and at a public hearing held in July in Bethlehem, Pa. The permit is asking for a copious amount of water, up to 30 million gallons a month, from the West Branch of the Delaware River in Buckingham Township, a pristine area of the Upper Delaware that has been designated as “Special Protection Waters” by the commission. The proposed site would be located on a private property adjacent to the river. An estimated five million gallons of water is needed - for one drilled well - to bust open deep underground formations to release natural gas beneath the surface.

Chesapeake Appalachia cannot produce Marcellus Shale natural gas wells without water; the commission, a five-member, state-appointed board, regulates water quality and quantity in the Delaware River Basin, requiring any substantial water users to seek environmental permits.

Stone Energy Corp., of Louisiana, also submitted a water withdrawal permit for the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township. The water, if approved, would crack open one natural gas well in Clinton Township and proposed sites in Preston and Mount Pleasant Townships - targeting the Marcellus Shale, a vast geologic formation that contains trillions of tons of trapped natural gas. Wayne County ‘s population resides more than a mile above it. Stone Energy Corp. and Chesapeake Appalachia are the only companies with leaseholds in Wayne County that have submitted water permit applications to the commission, according to the agencies records as of Friday. The companies would only be able to use the water for natural gas wells in the Delaware River Basin, which includes most of Wayne County".

Article Written by: By Steve McConnell, Wayne Independent, Fri Sep 18, 2009, 02:32 PM EDT
Link to Article

Announcement # 2
Fracturing fluids spill into Susquehanna County stream
Dimock Township, Pa. -
"An investigation is underway into the spilling of 8,500 gallons of potentially harmful natural gas production fluid that also entered a stream and wetland in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County on Wednesday, The Wayne Independent has learned. “Frac gel” - a lubricating material used during the production process - poured out of a pipe that connected a chemical holding tank to a natural gas well, said Mark Carmon, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., a Texas company that has a number of natural gas wells in the area, reported the spill to DEP on Wednesday. The company is responsible for the incident, said Carmon.

DEP is in the process of identifying the exact nature of the fracturing fluids involved in order to measure the level of harm posed by the chemicals for human health and local wildlife, he said. Natural gas production companies use an array of chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water to extract the energy commodity by busting open underground rock formations, which are located more than a mile beneath the surface. The procedure is typically called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing.”
The spill occurred on two occasions: once in the afternoon and a second Wednesday evening, equating to an estimated 8,500 gallons of fracturing fluid illegally flowing into the environment. The fluid made its way into Stevens Creek and a wetland, spurring a massive clean up and biological impact investigation by the state environmental regulator and the state fish & boat commission.“We’re up there again today (Thursday). We’re doing sampling,” said Carmon. “The most important thing for us is getting this cleaned up.” He added that the investigation will determine whether private wells need to be sampled for fracturing chemicals. The chemicals can be harmful to human health, causing sickness and the possibility of various forms of cancer.

This would be Cabot Oil & Gas Corp’s second disastrous incident in Dimock Township since the company began extensive drilling operations in the township last year. A protective well casing failed at a different well around December 2008, causing methane to pollute the local aquifer. Due to that, neighbors in the area had their private wells tainted with methane, forcing some to drink bottled water. Their residences were also constantly monitored for the explosive yet odorless gas.
The spill on Wednesday occurred in the vicinity of a natural gas well named “Heitsman.” According to a Wayne Independent review of DEP records, Cabot has five natural gas wells called “Heitsman” - with four of the five incurring violations from the state environmental regulator.The violations centered on inadequate or non-existing erosion and sediment control plans, which prevent harmful chemicals, for example, from running off drill sites into nearby waterways. "
Article Written by: By Steve McConnell, Wayne Independent, Thu Sep 17, 2009, 04:10 PM EDT
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