Bradford County Blowout Frustrates Officials

Towanda Creek, Bradford County, PA
On April 19, a well being hydraulically fractured by Chesapeake Energy suffered a blowout, or a loss of control of the wellhead, releasing thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid onto the ground and into nearby Towanda Creek. Actions by officials at the county, state, and federal levels show some frustration with the drilling operator over this incident.

Chairman of the Bradford County Commissioners Mark W. Smith wrote an open letter to Governor Tom Corbett, in which he addresses the perfunctory well permitting process, well water spoilage and declining property values. He also points out the strains that the industry places on the local communities:
I continue to see our county, townships, and boroughs struggle with complex issues of development with no financial or logistical support from the Commonwealth. Emergency responders, volunteers, state and local police and dispatchers are working at a break neck pace to respond to immense traffic accident increases, well site accidents, and other related issues.
At the state level, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has already issued violations for the incident, as well as demanding explanations of certain aspects of the massive leak and spill. Chief among those is why Chesapeake elected to bring in well control specialists Boots and Coots, which took 12 hours to arrive on the scene, when there were other well control specialists available much closer. (For some dramatic well disaster footage, see Boots and Coots’ promotional video.)
The US Environmental Protection Agency is also getting involved, demanding complete information about the incident in this open letter to Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin explains the twofold nature of request:
We want a complete accounting of operations at the site to determine our next steps in this incident and to help prevent future releases of this kind.
Chesapeake Energy officials are also concerned, suspending all post-drilling activities in the Marcellus, including hydraulic fracturing, until the nature of the spill is fully undestood. The linked article gives no indication of a time frame for that review.
In 2010, Bradford County had 280 Marcellus Shale violations issued, with 386 Marcellus wells drilled in the same period. That works out to an average of three violations issued for every four wells drilled in the county.
Oil and gas violations in Bradford County, PA in 2010. Please click the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.
7 replies
  1. lisa barr
    lisa barr says:

    I love you guys. I could find no private email on the site for you. Please check spelling. I believe it is Towanda Creek with an ‘o’ or am I mistaken?

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    >Put this image in your mind…. While you’re watching the well spew oil from drilling and other chemicals. Men are welding a retainer to help contain the mess; as sparks are flying around these highly flammable chemicals. A woman who is testing the air rushes out of the area as fast as possible. You see three black Lexus’s fly up. A few men in red suits get out and walk up to the perimeter. One man walks up to the well to shut it off. I assume that was Boots and Coots. Jobs done… Damage is more than you can image. You wonder if they draw strays in the car to see who’s going to the turn off valve. You wonder what the life expectancy is for that person with that job. Then you go on imaging the damage. The farmers in the surrounding radius are giving thousands to euthanize their livestock. Because it has been so contaminated it can’t be sold for beef, pork, dairy, etc. You ask well why euthanize well you can’t afford a chance. Image what else it has done… True Story

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    >Something is worong with connection to the snapshot or the snapshot itseld–will not visualize

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  1. […] ice on camera, catching the moment is demanding. Chesapeake previously caused the massive Bradford County, PA blowout in April […]

  2. […] is responsible for the dramatic Bradford County blowout which contaminated local residents’ water in 2011; the contamination is […]

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