Chesapeake Energy, Pennsylvania’s largest driller of natural gas, suspended fracking operations across the state Friday after a well blowout late Tuesday night in Bradford County, one year to the day after the BP Deepwater Horizon well disaster.
Thousands of gallons of fracking fluid leaked during the blowout from the ATGAS well, gushing past containment measures, over farmland and into local waterways. The leak has been slowed but not yet stopped as of Friday afternoon.
The drill sits on the Morse family farm in Canton, PA, and the entire surrounding community is farmland.
Local news station WNEP interviewed the farm’s owner and neighbors, excerpted below:
“The biggest thing is the footprint on the environment. Well obviously this is a big footprint,” said neighbor Ted Tomlinson. “It’s one of those things that happens. Gotta live with it, I guess. Here to stay.”
Neighbors like him were asked to leave their homes as a precaution. Some did, and some did not. “Our family’s been on this corner a long time and expect to stay and expect a good-faith effort from Chesapeake so that we can live here,” Tomlinson added.
His concern is for his drinking water well just several football fields away from the blown-out gas well.
“That’s typically everyone’s concern in the area, is well water,” Tomlinson added. We don’t want all that other stuff. We want to keep on drinking it.”
“It’s just one of those things,” said farm owner Randy Morse. He leased his property to Chesapeake. His beef cattle will no longer be able to drink from the brook that has been contaminated. Morse is broken up over the whole thing, hoping others don’t blame him. “As it looks right now, all the water that ran into that tributary did run into the creek, without adverse affects right now,” Morse said.
The exact cause of the accident is unknown, said Chesapeake Energy spokesman Brian Grove to the Associated Press.
It is as yet unclear as to whether or not the well be subject to a “top kill” operation to plug the well, but company plans do include the use of “a mix of plastic, ground up tires and heavy mud” to plug the well, according to Reuters.
According to their company website, Chesapeake Energy was “one of the first energy companies to call for disclosure of additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process,” and has provided details on a well-by-well basis as to the additives used in their fracking procedures.
Specific information is listed on www.hydraulicfracturingdisclosure.org for many of Chesapeake Energy’s wells, but the ATGAS well is not yet listed and neither is information on the fracking fluid leaking into the environment.
Read all WMEAC blog posts on fracking here.