DEP plans thorough investigation into Marcellus shale well blowout in Clearfield County

Harrisburg — Department of
Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today that his
agency intends to investigate aggressively the circumstances
surrounding a blowout at a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in
Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, and take the appropriate
enforcement action.

At approximately 8 p.m. on
Thursday, June 3, the operators of the well, which is owned by EOG
Resources, Inc., lost control of it while preparing to extract gas
after hydrofracturing the shale. As a result, the well released
natural gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet
into the air. The well was eventually capped around noon on June

“The event at the well site could
have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and
property,” said Hanger. “This was not a minor accident, but a
serious incident that will be fully investigated by this agency
with the appropriate and necessary actions taken

“When we arrived on scene, natural
gas and frack fluid was flowing off the well pad and heading toward
tributaries to Little Laurel Run and gas was shooting into the sky,
creating a significant fire hazard. That’s why emergency responders
acted quickly to cut off electric service to the area.

“Right now, we’re focused on
limiting any further environmental damage, but once that work is
complete, we plan to aggressively look at this situation and see
where things went wrong and what enforcement action is necessary.
If mistakes were made, we will be certain to take steps to prevent
similar errors from happening again.”

DEP learned of the leak at
approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday after it was informed by the
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. DEP immediately
dispatched its Emergency Response and Oil and Gas program staff to
the site.

PEMA, which elevated its
activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state
agencies, also worked with PennDOT to initiate an airspace
restriction above the well, which the Federal Aviation
Administration authorized on a temporary basis earlier today. The
restriction prohibits flights at and below 1,000 feet of ground
level within a three nautical mile radius of the well site. The
restriction is in effect until further notice.

The EOG well pad is located in a
rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in
northwestern Clearfield County. Three other wells on the same pad
that have been drilled and fractured remain plugged and are not in

EOG Resources, formerly known as
Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in
Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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