There have been five spills of more than 6,000 gallons of fracking fluid containing bentonite since the beginning of this month and now the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is monitoring the situation at the natural gas pipeline installations.
Chief Gathering LLC, bought out by PVR Partners, hired contractors to install a pipeline to connect natural gas wells in Susquehanna County to the Transco interstate pipeline in Dallas Township, PA.
Since May 1, there have been five spills of more than 6,000 gallons of water containing bentonite, a type of clay used in drilling operations, at two different Dallas Township sites: Leonards Creek on Kunkle Road and Upper Demunds Road and Goodleigh Road, outside Goodleigh Estates, according to a report from DEP. On Thursday, crews sucked up the mud at the Upper Demunds Road site using vacuum trucks.
Releases of mud at pipeline boring sites are not uncommon and “we plan for them and we deal with them,” said Chief’s Vice President of Industry Affairs Kristi Gittins. No chemicals or additives were a part of the spill, she said.
DEP has been to the site and approved remediation plans, Gittins said. She said Chief is providing information to DEP and the agency does regular follow-up visits.
The DEP report shows five “inadvertent return to surface” incidents involving drilling mud with bentonite coming up from the ground at two horizontal drilling sites.
The first occurred at 8:30 a.m. May 1, with 50 gallons of mud released at a wetlands next to Leonards Creek on Kunkle Road. Workers contained it at the site. The next day at the same site 20 gallons escaped containment but did not impact the creek. Then again on May 2, 200 gallons overflowed at the site. They also cleaned up that spill, DEP reported.
In the fourth incident, on Monday, about 1,000 gallons of bentonite spilled and drilling mud came out from an old springhouse between Kunkle Road and Leonards Creek. They did not contain all the bentonite at the time, and DEP reported the creek was cloudy. By Thursday, they cleaned up most of the bentonite.
The fifth incident occurred last Saturday, when 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of bentonite was lost in wetlands about 200 feet off Upper Demunds Road, DEP said. Workers contained the drilling mud on the site with hay bales and they are removing it by a vacuum truck.
The Upper Demunds Road spill occurred outside an upscale development where the pipeline installation created controversy.