Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 22, 2013
By: Anne C. Foster, Baker & Hostetler LLP
A recent article published in the Akron Beacon Journal indicates (click here) that of the 183 water-well complaints received by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) between 2010 and mid-October 2013, “only six water supplies were impacted by drilling over the nearly four-year period.” By phone, Mark Bruce, a spokesman from the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management of ODNR, mentioned that ODNR thoroughly investigates each complaint it receives, and in some cases, investigations may still be ongoing. Nonetheless, he also confirmed that neither hydraulic fracturing nor horizontal drilling were to blame for the issues ODNR found at the six-impacted sites. Rather, the fact that these sites were generally decades old and abandoned led to the adverse findings.
As the article specifies, ODNR’s findings were not surprising, as “older wells and abandoned wells are more likely to create water-well problems with neighbors than horizontal wells.” With that said, however, ODNR continues to examine best practices from industry players, other states, and concerned citizens to minimize risks to human health and the environment. By way of example, ODNR is currently drafting rules which will outline a permitting process for flowback water impoundments applicable to companies choosing to use such pools in connection with horizontal drilling. Bruce also mentioned that companies may use the impoundments for the purpose of storing freshwater to be used in the fracturing process or storing (and perhaps reusing) the flowback fluids in future fracturing projects.
For further information regarding the flowback water rules and rulemaking, please refer to the following sources:
Source: http://www.lexology.com, July 30, 2013
By: Wayne J. D’Angelo, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
The image of water flowing from a tap being ignited with a lighter has become heavily associated with hydraulic fracturing in the minds of the public. But a research paper produced by the National Ground Water Association suggests this widespread image may be a mirage. The paper, published in the May/June issue of the journal Groundwater, details the results of a study of 1,701 water quality analyses from drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The study found that the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction has not created pathways for rapid gas migration into shallow groundwater. Rather, the concentration of methane in the region’s groundwater is disproportionally high in water wells located in valleys, regardless of their proximity to shale gas wells. The findings suggest that the topography of the region, rather than shale gas development, explains elevated methane levels in Susquehanna County water wells. The paper’s authors extrapolate that the findings have significant implications for the understanding of risks associated with shale gas extraction.
The authors also examined the results of isotropic and molecular analyses of hydrocarbon gases from 15 water wells in Susquehanna County by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA, and concluded that the gases in the water wells are most consistent with those found in the spaces around the casings of local gas wells. These gases originate in relatively shallow shale formations, and do not exhibit features consistent with gas produced from deeper Marcellus shale.
These findings, while significant, are very much consistent with numerous other studies across the nation, none of which have found an instance of methane contamination in water from the fracturing of shale well below the aquifer.
With assistance from Andrew McNamee
Source: Dow Jones News Service, June 26, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
(FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 6/26/13)
Poorly sealed natural-gas wells — not hydraulic fracturing of shale-rock formations — are likely to blame for dissolved gas found in private water wells in Pennsylvania, according to a new study by Duke University.
Duke scientists found that 82% of the 141 water wells they tested in a part of Pennsylvania above the rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale had elevated levels of methane, the main component of natural gas.
Water wells nearer to natural-gas-industry drilling sites had the highest levels according to the study, published online this month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, the study found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process of using water and chemicals to crack shale formations deep underground and unlock trapped oil and gas, was causing fluids to migrate upward into drinking aquifers closer to the surface.
Instead, it concluded that wells being drilled were most likely not adequately sealed, allowing gas to flow upward and sometimes enter aquifers used by homes. The combination of steel pipes, called casing, and cement sheaths used in well construction don’t always contain gas as intended, industry officials and observers contend.
“Poor casing and cementing problems are the simplest explanation of what we found,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke and lead author of the study, which was funded by the university.
Environmentalists have criticized fracking as an industrial threat to rural communities and their drinking water.
Steve Everley, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, a group funded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the Duke study “is not a smoking gun to say that gas drilling is a problem.” He noted how other recent research has found high levels of methane in water wells, even when there hasn’t been nearby fracking.
Source: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org, May 10, 2013
By: Willow Belden
Sublette County has been in the news a lot because of its air quality problems, which largely stem from natural gas production. But there’s another issue too: Pollutants have been showing up in water wells. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
WILLOW BELDEN: The pollutants in question are petroleum products like diesel-range organics and benzene. They first started showing up in water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field in 2006. That prompted the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Environmental Quality to call for extensive testing, and the following year, they detected hydrocarbons in 85 wells. Several were at concentrations exceeding the DEQ’s limit for what’s safe to drink. Since then, there have been dozens of detections each year, and each year, a handful exceed the legal limit. But nobody knows where the pollutants are coming from.…
Source: http://www.wicz.com, April 30, 2013
A response wasn’t long in coming, following the latest bit of news on a very controversial subject. Just one day after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said methane found in private water wells in Franklin Forks Township was naturally occuring and not the result of natural gas development, one of the homeowners whose well was tested still has questions.
Tammy Manning said she’d like to see the tests themselves that the DEP conducted and not just the results.
She says the agency isn’t making those tests available.
“Very vague. I think they’re not giving us the full information. I asked them for the test results and how they determine that and they won’t give it to me,” said Tammy Manning. Franklin Forks Township resident.
A spokesperson for the DEP says while the tests aren’t available to the public, a homeowner would likely have a chance to see them. A spokesperson for Energy-In-Depth, an industry-funded group, says the DEP investigation closes the door on the idea the methane migration in Franklin Forks was due to gas drilling.
Manning says she might have her water tested privately.
Pennsylvania environmental regulators on Monday concluded that Marcellus Shale drilling was not responsible for a high-profile case of methane contamination of private water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said it has closed the books on an investigation of the methane migration in Franklin Forks, Pa., which anti-drilling celebrities Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon visited in January.
Citing a 125-page consultant’s report, DEP says the methane in some residents’ wells is naturally occurring shallow gas, not production gas from well drilling.
Matthew and Tammy Manning last year sued WPX Energy, the company that drilled gas wells about 4,000 feet from their Susquehanna County home.
Source: Dow Jones News Service, October 11, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
New tests of water surrounding natural-gas-drilling sites near Pavillion, Wyo., have turned up results that are ” generally consistent” with earlier findings showing a link between contamination and hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
The EPA’s announcement could be a blow to natural-gas company Encana Corp., which operates the Pavillion gas field and has routinely denied any link between its drilling and compounds found in the EPA’s two monitoring wells.
Encana says the EPA drilled its wells into a gas zone, which explains the presence of hydrocarbons. The company also says the EPA has drawn improper conclusions from its data.
“EPA has provided no sound scientific evidence that drilling has impacted domestic drinking-water wells in the area,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said.
Though the EPA has stressed Pavillion is unique and that any evidence of contamination there shouldn’t be used as an indictment of hydraulic fracturing everywhere, these tests could fuel concerns about hydraulic fracturing, dubbed ” fracking,” and the risk it potentially poses to groundwater supplies.
The EPA said Wednesday it would accept comments on its draft findings until January, extending a deadline that was slated to expire in October.
Fracking involves a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals injected underground to break open seams in the earth and unlock natural-gas supplies. Fracking paved the way for a boom of U.S. natural-gas production, but opponents say the drilling method contaminates groundwater and allows greenhouse gases to escape into the atmosphere.…
Source: http://www.insurancejournal.com, July 13, 2011
A western Pennsylvania couple has sued a natural gas driller claiming its activities contaminated their water well.
The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that Chester and Edith Slesinger are suing T&F Exploration LP and T&F Operating Inc.
The couple claims leaks and discharges of drilling fluids and other substances have cost them use of the well on their Adams Township, Cambria County property. The suit says water quality tests found contamination.
The suit in county court says Chester Slesinger has been hauling water from a neighbor’s home since the test results came back. The Slesingers say they noticed problems in December 2009 when their morning coffee tasted salty and bitter.
A phone message left early Tuesday for T&F Exploration was not immediately returned.…
Source: The Modesto Bee, April 9, 2011
By: Garth Stapley
The government must have had its reasons, 40 years ago, for turning gently rolling land near a peaceful river bend into a dump.
Maybe no one wanted it for anything else. It likely was cheap and available, and — nine miles east of Modesto — out of sight, but within comfortable driving distance for pickups and garbage trucks.
In 20 years, the 168-acre Geer Road dump — with no bottom liner, allowing groundwater to rise and soak rotting garbage — swallowed about 4.5 million tons of waste.
Perhaps it’s a good thing for those government officials that they’re long gone, with few left to explain the inconceivably poor decision. But someone must answer for the sins of the fathers, state overseers say, or risk polluting the Tuolumne River with foul, cancer-causing agents from water moving underground.
The ire of state water officials was on display Friday in Sacramento when Stanislaus County representatives acknowledged that spending $7.24 million trying to contain contaminated groundwater from the defunct dump is far too little, too late.…