A potential case of anti-drilling vandalism has been reported in Indiana County, at a recently-approved Marcellus Shale drilling site near Yellow Creek State Park.
According to police, someone punched holes in the plastic lining of a containment pit at the Marcellus shale well sometime between 4 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. Wednesday, causing an estimated $3,500 in damage.
Mike Knapp, president of Knapp Acquisitions and Production, land agent and public liaison for the well owner, Kittanning’s MDS Energy, said that whoever is responsible appeared to have blasted about a half-dozen holes in the liner with a shotgun. He or she also pulled up stakes that were holding up a safety fence and used them to punch another half-dozen holes, Knapp said.
The pit is meant to hold the powdery drill cuttings from the bore hole, not the water produced through the hydraulic fracturing process. Knapp said the pit contained some cuttings from when the company began drilling the well earlier in the year — drillers reached a depth of about 380 feet before having to stop — and some rainwater that had collected in it.
Knapp said the company has notified the state Department of Environmental Protection and is awaiting word on how the agency wants the company to proceed.
He said they are taking the incident as a message from someone, given the timing of the incident.
A zoning board granted special permission to drill within the park’s conservation zone last week. As the Tribune-Review wrote at the time, “This particular well location has been the subject of debate for several months because it is located less than a half-mile from the northern shore of Yellow Creek Lake, which is the only source of water for the Central Indiana County Water Authority.?
Knapp also vented about the incident at his blog.
Is this the first case of eco-terrorism against Marcellus shale drilling? It may well be. It sickens me that our company, which has BENT OVER BACKWARDS to work with the environmentalists opposed to our plans to increase the protections on this site, has the dubious distinction of being the first company to have to deal with something like this.
Thanks to the actions of this despicable, cowardly person we now have a family who has to fear for their lives.
We have good, hard working employees with young families having to watch over their shoulder with families at home that all must now worry if this lunatic is prepared to take his violent intimidation tactics to next level. What a sad state of affairs.