The Connection for Oil, Gas & Environment in the Northern Tier (C.O.G.E.N.T.) Friday reported in a Google+ post that JKLM Energy, LLC acknowledged contaminating several water supply wells in Sweden Township, Potter county with a surfactant solution containing isopropanol used in drilling and completing natural gas wells.
The migration was discovered following the use of the surfactant to free a broken drill bit piece in a shale natural gas well at 570 feet below ground on September 18th.
The potentially harmful substance in the surfactant involved in this incident is isopropanol (otherwise known as isopropyl alcohol, available at the local pharmacy over the counter). Isopropanol is a clear, colorless liquid with a fruity odor and a mild bitter taste.
Most commonly found domestically as rubbing alcohol, isopropanol is also found in numerous household and commercial products, including detergents, cleaning products, deodorants and cosmetics.
If direct contact occurs in undiluted form, isopropanol may cause illness. In high undiluted doses, it can irritate the skin and cause damage to the eyes.
However, it is known that the surfactant involved in this incident was diluted with large quantities of fresh water during its application, and that additional dilution occurs as the material travels through ground water. Therefore, JKLM said it does not expect that any significant medical events will occur as a result of this incident.
While the surfactant involved is used in certain stages of drilling natural gas wells, it is not on the list of materials approved by the Department of Environmental Protection for use at this point in the drilling process.
JKLM is reviewing the procedures that resulted in the use of the material and will provide that information to the DEP.
JKLM personnel are conducting an investigation to mitigate the effect or potential effect of the release on local public and private water supplies.
Five private water wells are known to have been impacted by the release; JKLM has provided replacement water sources to those property owners, along with offers for reimbursement for incurred services to address inconvenience or disruption of normal household activities. This includes hotel accommodations, if requested.
On September 24 JKLM Energy, LLC received lab results from six water sources that had potential groundwater contamination. These results included four of the five private water wells with foamy characteristics for the presence of isopropanol, the chemical of principal concern in the incident, which was not detected in those four wells.
The material was also not detected in a sample collected from a spring located in the area of the investigation.
The private well with foam closest to the drill site contained 15 ppm (parts per million) isopropanol, which is at the Act 2 standard for aquifers serving residential uses, the threshold for state drinking water standards.
These sampling results are consistent with the belief that the aquifer would continue to disperse and degrade the isopropanol as it is transported through the aquifer by means of normal water flow.
JKLM attended a Sept. 24 public meeting at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport to inform local officials and citizens about the release and to answer any questions and concerns that they had. The company is continuing to test water wells and sources in the potentially affected area and will keep the public apprised of the general lab results as they are received.
Residents With Problems Should Contact The Company
JKLM is currently determining the potential for impacts to additional private water wells to the south and west of the Reese Hollow 118 Pad (along Burrows and North Hollow Roads), and is advising property owners with wells in that area to be alerted to the potential presence of traces of this surfactant in their drinking water, which would present a soapy odor and taste and may cause water to foam.
The company has asked any residents that detect such an odor, taste, or foaming in their well water to stop using their well water for drinking water and other household uses, and to contact the company immediately.
If it is determined that a property owner’s water supply is affected, JKLM will promptly provide the resident with a replacement water source and other reimbursement, as provided to the five properties currently being monitored.
JKLM is currently working closely with the DEP and has initiated contact with Potter County Emergency Management as this investigation continues. The company is also collecting groundwater samples in areas that may be affected.
JKLM continues to evaluate and monitor the situation on a daily basis and is modifying its action plan to responsibly address/mitigate potential impacts.
Local residents with questions may contact Dean Boorum, JKLM's community liaison, at 814-598-3960.The company established a North Hollow Response website to provide regular updates as the groundwater investigation and response process continues.
C.O.G.E.N.T. is very active in providing reliable information about drilling and its impacts in the Northern Tier counties. Emily Krafjack serves as a non-voting member of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Committee overseeing the shale gas drilling program.
Related Stories:House Environmental Committee Meets On Drilling Regulations Oct. 26