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DEP Fines Gas Driller for Lycoming County Spills

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A drilling rig in Bradford County.

*This piece has been updated with new information from the Department of Environmental Protection.*
The Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday that the agency fined Pennsylvania General Energy Company $125,500 for three spills that occurred back in January, 2012. The fine also includes failing to comply with sediment and erosion controls during a four-month construction project near a high-quality, trout stream in 2011.
DEP says that during a fracking operation in January, 2012, PGE spilled an estimated 8,200 gallons of “brine,” and 89 gallons of diesel fuel. Brine is salty water, and often refers to what returns as wastewater during the fracking process. Typically this brine also contains chemicals and sometimes radioactive material. In an email, DEP spokesman Dan Spadoni gave more details about the content of the brine.

“The fluid was blended water, which included flowback/wastewater from another well site that was being mixed with other fluids to be reused for the hydraulic fracturing process on the COP 729 C well pad.  The released fluid contained elevated levels of primarily barium, strontium, iron, and chlorides.  Elevated levels of these parameters were not detected in sampling conducted downstream of the release in an unnamed tributary to Ramsey Run.”

Both the well site spills and the sediment discharges in the high-quality Pine Creek watershed in Lycoming County.
DEP says PGE excavated more than 3,300 tons of contaminated soil. The company submitted a final report, that was reviewed and approved by DEP last July.
Pennsylvania General Energy already leads the state’s drillers as one of the top ten violators. The most recent data from DEP shows the Warren, Pennsylvania based driller with 142 active wells, and 88 violations. The company had already paid DEP $28,960 in fines.
The site of the spills occurred at the COP Tract 729-C pad in Cummings Township.

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