Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DEP Investigating Tioga County Marcellus Well Incident On State Forest Land

The Department of Environmental Protection is investigating a well control incident that occurred January 17 at a Talisman Energy natural gas well located on state forest land in Ward Township, Tioga County.
Talisman also has been conducting its own investigation and has been cooperating fully with the department.
“This was a serious incident that could have caused significant environmental harm had it not been brought under control,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “DEP is conducting a thorough investigation to determine why this incident occurred.”
Talisman began having problems controlling the well in the early afternoon of January 17. The well was successfully shut in about 3:45 p.m. that day.
During the well control incident, which began during hydraulic fracturing of the well, fracking fluids and sand discharged from the well into the air. It does not appear that any significant amount of natural gas was released and there was no fire or explosion.
DEP Oil and Gas and Emergency Response program staff responded to the well, and Talisman Energy contacted CUDD Well Control to assist with gaining control of the well. CUDD recently opened an operations center in Canton, Bradford County, and was able to quickly respond to the site.
Talisman voluntarily shut down all hydraulic fracturing operations in North America while investigating the cause of this incident.
Inspections conducted last week by DEP staff verified that the fluids had been contained to the lined well pad. The fluids were cleaned up by a contractor and further sampling will be conducted to determine if any contaminated soil needs to be removed.
Oil and Gas Program staff also collected soil samples last week from beneath the well pad liner. Those results have not yet been received.
The department sent a notice of violation letter on January 24 which requires the company to submit a sampling plan for the site, information on any fluids released, an analysis of the main cause of the incident, and changes to be implemented in all of its Marcellus operations as a result of the incident.

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