Susquehanna River

September 27, 2013

Opinion: Energy Industry Liability May Cover Contamination Claims From Colorado Flooding

Source:, September 24, 2013
By: Jared Zola and Clark Schweers

Colorado residents and businesses face devastating water inundation that many are dubbing a one-in-500-years weather event. Early reports confirm nearly 2,400 square miles saturated with water causing massive dislocation and loss of life.

As recovery efforts begin, some environmental groups are turning their attention to the Wattenberg field north of Denver that is home to more than 20,000 oil and natural gas wells in Weld County and parts of Boulder, Adams, Larimer and Broomfield counties—counties that have experienced flooding, washed out roads, and evacuations. Several large oil and gas companies currently operate hydraulically fractured wells in the area.

For those businesses that may face potential liability from environmental contamination claims, liability insurance may be an important asset to help manage defense costs and remediation payments—even if contamination claims prove to be wholly without merit.

According to a Sept. 14 Denver Post article, Colorado flooding: Evacuations, broken oil pipeline in Weld County: “Oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen river flowing northeast. County officials did not give locations of where the pipeline broke and where other pipelines were compromised. . . .One pipeline has broken and is leaking . . . other industry pipelines are sagging as saturated sediment erodes around the expanding river.”…

July 25, 2013

XTO settles federal water pollution charges in Pennsylvania

Source: Oil & Gas Journal, July 19, 2013
By: Nick Snow

ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and to spend $20 million to improve wastewater management practices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia natural gas operations.

The agreement came in a settlement of federal water pollution charges, the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced.

A consent decree, filed in federal court for Pennsylvania’s Middle District, is subject to a 30-day comment period and court approval.

The charges stemmed from a discharge discovered by a Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (PADEP) inspector’s visit to XTO’s Penn Township plant, where he observed wastewater spilling from an open valve from a series of interconnected tanks.

At the time, XTO stored wastewater from oil and gas activities throughout Pennsylvania at its Penn Township facility, DOJ and EPA said.

Pollutants were found in a Susquehanna River basin tributary. EPA, in consultation with PADEP, determined wastewater stored in the Penn Township facility’s tanks contained the same variety of pollutants, including chlorides, barium, strontium, and total dissolved solids, that were found in those surface waters.…

December 15, 2011

14 Firms Named as Defendants in Binghamton Wastewater Suit

Source:, December 14, 2011
By: Candy McCampbell

Binghamton, N.Y., and Johnson City, N.Y., and their joint sewage board have gone back into court, detailing design and construction mismanagement problems at the sewage treatment plant where a 100-ft wall collapsed in May.

Defendants now include 10 engineering or construction firms as well as four insurance firms, which are are involved in the $67-million, phase-three upgrade to meet state environmental standards for the outflow that feeds into the Susquehanna River.

Leading the defendants are C&S Engineers Inc., and C&S Companies, Syracuse, N.Y., the engineer-of-record and construction manager for the expansion, and C.O. Falter Construction Corp., Syracuse, which did general construction for the project.

Repairs and reconstruction will cost more than $20 million, according to the lawsuit. Structural studies showed “many fundamental design and construction errors, omissions and defects,” and “large sections of the concrete cells were overstressed and structurally unstable,” the suit contends. The structural review and other reports found “design, safety and construction flaws, defects, errors, omissions and deficiencies in the design, construction and oversight of the Phase III improvements,” it says. The studies show “substantial portions of the structural, mechanical and operational systems at the BJC plant had not been properly designed by C&S,” the suit says. “The BJC Plant is not capable of being used for its intended purposes,” the filing says.…

July 7, 2011

Pennsylvania Fracking Waste Heading to Ohio

Source:, July 5, 2011
By: Jason Gallagher

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas along the Marcellus Shale deposit in Pennsylvania is one of the most controversial topics in the state. One of the factors that influence the anti-fracking crowd is the waste water that is generated from the process. Earlier this year, due to concerns from drilling chemicals and contaminated water, Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River was named the most endangered river in the United States by American Rivers.

When fracking companies send high volumes of water laced with a number of chemicals into the ground to release the gas, some of that water is returned to the surface with a number of contaminants. That water needs to be reused or disposed of somewhere.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was so concerned with the high levels of salt in the waste water it asked fracking companies to stop sending the water to municipal treatment facilities in the state in an effort to keep the tainted water out of rivers, according to My Fox Philly. In many other major gas drilling states, the water is disposed of by injecting it into disposal wells deep into the ground. With few options in Pennsylvania for disposal injection wells, fracking companies have started to ship their waste water across the border to Ohio.…