There was a spill earlier this week of up to 20,000 gallons of wastewater created by the hydraulic fracturing process at a natural gas well pad in Bradford County, PA.

The actual volume of the spill at the well in Canton Township was unknown because the company had not yet finished measuring it, said Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Talisman Energy.

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Pennsylvania State Police in Towanda are investigating the spill as criminal mischief. Someone intentionally tampered with a tank on the well pad between midnight and 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to cause the spill, according to a police report.

Cox could not confirm the cause of the spill because it is still under investigation.

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The spilled liquid is production brine or “flow back water,” Cox said, explaining that it’s “the water that comes back after the hydraulic fracturing is complete.”

It flows to the surface after water and hydraulic fracturing fluid inject into the well, she said.

“It comes back with rock chippings and pieces of the earth in with it,” Cox said. The residue is similar to what officials found dumped Dec. 1 on state game land in the county.

Josh Foster, of Temple, Ga., is facing charges in the December incident, in which officials found 800 gallons of sludge on Pennsylvania Game Land 219 in Warren Township, Bradford County. He will appear Jan. 17 in District Court.

The brine that leaked Tuesday released into an area designed to contain spills, which Cox described as a shallow hole with a “deep plastic liner.” Cox didn’t know how thick the liner is, but said it’s a standard in the energy industry.

Officials vacuumed the spill out of the containment area and put back in the tank, she said.

A Department of Environmental Protection spokesman could not provide additional formation about the spill Tuesday.

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