Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gas well blowout releases fracking fluid into environment

Gas well blowout releases fracking fluid into environment

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A natural gas driller in Bradford County lost control of a well early this morning, releasing fluids into the environment.
The Atgas 2H well operated by Chesapeake Energy in Leroy Township blew out at around 2 a.m., according to Bradford County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Skip Roupp.
The well was in the process of being hydraulically fractured and Roupp characterized the spilled fluid as "mostly water ... with some contaminants" but he did not know the exact composition of the fluid.
"Evidently the crack is in the top part of the well below the blowout preventer," he said, referring to a device used in emergency situations to choke off flow from a well. "They don't really know what happened yet because they don't have it controlled yet."
Personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection, Bradford County EMA and Chesapeake Energy are on scene, he said.
Roupp said the well site is in a remote area on a mountain top and that the fluid had reached a small stream but had not yet reached any larger streams.
"It was released to the environment," he said, adding that it did not pose a risk to neighbors because of its remote location. "It may be a bigger problem to the environment than people."
No one has been reported injured, he said, and he was not aware of any people being evacuated or any livestock being quarantined as a result of the release.
Gary Wilcox, the county's director of public safety, said the material went into the containment area, a field, a tributary of Towanda Creek and into Towanda Creek, he said. Towanda Creek is a tributary of the north branch of the Susquehanna River.
LeRoy Township is about 75 miles northwest of Wilkes-Barre. 

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