Chesapeake halts 'fracking' in Pennsylvania after spill
BY Wire reports
Friday, April 22, 2011
4/22/11 at 7:10 AM
Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Thursday it had suspended "fracking" at all of its wells in Pennsylvania until it figures out the cause of a spill in the northern part of the state.
The Oklahoma City-based natural gas producer said crews had significantly reduced the flow of chemical-laced water from its out-of-control well near Canton in Bradford County.
Company spokesman Brian Grove said that the exact cause of Tuesday night's breach is unknown, but that it's located in a wellhead connection.
Thousands of gallons of drilling fluids were spilled. They escaped containment, crossed over farm fields and went into a stream.
Grove says initial testing of area waterways has shown "minimal impact, if any" on water quality.
The spill prompted evacuations of nearby residents.
Chesapeake, the nation's most active driller company, said in a statement that crews built "secondary containment" around the well site to prevent more chemically treated water from escaping. Boots & Coots International Well Control, a division of Halliburton Co. that specializes in taming out-of-control oil and gas wells, is on the scene and working to stop the leak, Chesapeake said.
Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water and chemicals into the ground to release natural gas from shale formations.
A crew was in the process of fracking the well at about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday when it erupted, said Katy Gresh, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The well spilled an undetermined amount of fracturing fluids into a tributary of Towanda Creek, which feeds into the Susquehanna River.
No one was reported injured. Seven families were evacuated from the area as a precaution, and all but one family returned home Wednesday, Chesapeake said.
State environmental regulators are taking samples from the creek and plan to test private water wells in the area to monitor for contamination, Gresh said.
Vehicles sit at a natural gas drilling site owned by Chesapeake Energy in Leroy Township, Pa., on Wednesday after a blowout spilled chemical-laden water into a stream. C.J. MARSHALL/The Daily Review/Associated Press