Friday, April 23, 2010

Company Fined for Transferring Frack Water without a Permit

New Yorkers in a rush to see gas drilling in their back yard may want to pay closer attention to what's happening south of the border. Last week DEP fined Cabot, shut down their drilling rigs and won't give even a cursory look at their permit applications.

Today the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined Stallion Oilfield Services $6,500 for illegally transferring fracking water. The Houston, Texas company was caught operating a transfer station without a permit last year at its facility in Old Lycoming Township, Lycoming County.

This is not the first time DEP has slapped Stallion's corporate wrist; DEP previously issued a notice of violation to the company in June 2009. They found 21 frack water tanks at the site divided into two staging areas. The tanks were used to store fracking flowback water from natural gas wells.

DEP inspectors also found a 450-square foot area where frack water had spilled onto the ground. Soil samples showed high levels of chlorides and barium, common constituents of frack water. Stallion subsequently excavated and properly disposed of about seven cubic yards of soil.

DEP followed up with an inspection in August 2009 to confirm that the company had indeed halted the illegal transfer station activity. The agency's North-central Regional Director Robert Yowell told the press that businesses that support the natural gas exploration industry must improve their compliance with Pennsylvania’s waste management regulations. 

"DEP will continue to look aggressively for these illegal transfer stations and will take appropriate enforcement action whenever we find them,” Yowell said.

The problem in NY is that our Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is woefully understaffed. With 19 inspectors they can't even keep tabs on the 14,000 or so wells already in production. How will they ever oversee casing cementing, frack trucks, water withdrawals and brine leaks coming down the pike once Marcellus drilling takes off?

Read the full DEP press release here.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sue, for bringing this incident to my attention. One more example of the lawlessness of the gas industry. And who loses? The local people whose environment is contaminated and whose health is jeopardized. Keep up the good work.