Tue Sep 22, 2009, 05:24 PM EDT
Dimock Township, Pa. -
Make that three substantial chemical spills in less than one week at a natural gas drill site _ in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, The Wayne Independent has learned.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) confirmed that Cabot Oil & Gas, who is engaging in extensive drilling operations in the small community, spilled “hundreds of gallons” of the volatile chemical mixture Tuesday morning.
It is the same chemical - one that can cause skin cancer and a malady of other health issues - that spewed out of a pipe, twice, last Wednesday - amounting to more than 8,000 gallons of the harmful fluid entering the environment.
“This morning Cabot did report to us a third spill at the same site,” said DEP Spokesperson Dan Spadoni in a phone interview with The Wayne Independent.
DEP is expected to make the announcement in a press release on Wednesday, as the investigation continues into this third incident.
A message left for Cabot spokesperson Ken Komoroski was not returned by press time.
The first two spills, which reportedly discharged from a pipe connecting a fluid holding tank and one natural gas well, impacted a wetland area and flowed into Stevens Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. This latest incident was in the same area.
A call placed to the state Fish & Boat Commission, who is investigating the spill along with DEP, was not returned by press time.
The chemical that illegally entered the environment, off Troy Road, is a “liquid gel concentrate,” a “potential carcinogen” that is combustible.
Natural gas companies use an array of chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water to extract the energy commodity by busting open underground rock formations, located more than a mile beneath the surface. The procedure is typically called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing.”
The chemical spilled is a fracturing fluid, according to interviews with DEP staff.
It can cause headache, dizziness, or other central nervous system effects, according to the material safety data sheet obtained by The Wayne Independent. Inhalation may “cause respiratory irritation ... chemical pneumonia ... slurred speech, giddiness and unconsciousness.”
The material safety data sheet, a document that details general chemical information and human-health hazards, lists Halliburton, a company often used by the industry to develop natural gas wells.
The spill was apparently a mixture of a majority of water and the chemical, said Spadoni.
Pending lab results, DEP may require that the soil in the area is excavated.
It is also not known, as of this report, whether the spill contaminated local groundwater.
This report, reprinted here in its entirety, can be viewed in the original HERE.