This is a guest blog from Bob.
If only this gas drilling game was like baseball…
3 strikes and you’re out!
Range Resources had their 3rd (reported) wastewater spill in our Washington County, Pa yesterday. Worse yet, it was their 3rd spill in Hopewell Township in as many years, but the local newspapers all missed that angle on the story.
The official line was that Range spilled 400 barrels (O&G industry lingo for 16,800 gallons) of “treated” drilling wastewater. The industry mouthpiece admitted that the spilled wastewater was ”salty.” Excuse me for my skepticism, but I would bet the only “treatment” this drilling flowback had was running through a plastic pipeline, or being hauled in a residual waste tanker. Trick or Treat, indeed!
Range Resources has done most of the drilling in Washington County, signing early leases as Great Lakes Energy Partners when they were teamed up with FirstEnergy. One of their early leases was in our county park with a fishing lake; Cross Creek Park. Range had their first wastewater spill in that park back in May 2009. Five months later they had another spill (10,500 gallons) into a tributary of Brush Run Creek. Yesterday’s spill, their third in thirty months in Hopewell Township, was 16,800 gallons. These spills from temporary pipelines are never small, nor as insignificant as some would have you to believe.
Let’s flashback to Cross Creek Park for a second….. those who read my emails recall that Range botched their latest drill pad clearcutting endeavor by ‘mistakenly’ cutting the oldest stand of hardwood trees in the park, plus violated their lease by opening the viewshed to the lake. Their clearcut also trespassed onto a neighboring cemetery with the clearcut of another couple acres of timber. In the meantime, Range is in the process of permitting another drill pad in our county park, bringing to 20 their number of permitted wells. Their park lease will expire once they drill 16 Marcellus wells, plus another 6 wells below the Onondaga formation. Will our county commissioners renew their partnership with Range? Range contributed $1,500 to Commissioner Irey-Vaughn this year. The tea leaves say the county will not only extend that lease, but also lease every square inch of land in the county that can be drilled for money.
“What’s your problem with this drilling Bob?”
Back to Range…. they continue to present themselves as the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to drilling companies. I really have to ask myself, “If these bunglers are the best, what do the worst operators look like?”
Photos of yesterday’s spill….
Clean-up underway mid-afternoon. Note the temporary white plastic pipeline that was breached when a contractor attempted to move it with a strap and it ruptured. These pipelines often run for miles, linking open wastewater impoundments to frac sites.
Sign next to the spill site
I've been told that cattle have a taste for this salty wastewater. Were these cattle moved away from the spill site soon enough? Think about that while you eat your next Angus burger.
June 2011 photo of the John Rush drilling site and "water" impoundment (this impoundment was permitted 8/31/10) These huge pits begin as freshwater impoundments and soon switch over to being wastewater impoundments, holding a rainbow of different colored fluids. (Whitish stains on the black liners most quickly reveal that the fluids they hold are no longer freshwater)
In addition to these temporary white (6-inch?) plastic pipelines, we are now starting to see these larger black (16-inch?) pipelines. Think that little black plastic catch basin will hold a thousand gallons?
How many repeated insults to our surroundings will be tolerated?