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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fracking Spill Response In Pennsylvania Took 13 Hours Despite State's Quick-Action Plan

4-27-11 sourced from Huffingtonpost.com

From ProPublica's Nicholas Kusnetz:
When Chesapeake Energy lost control of a Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania on April 19, an emergency response team from Texas was called in to stop the leak. By the time the team arrived more than 13 hours later, brine water and hydraulic fracturing fluids from the well had spewed across nearby fields and into a creek.
Why did a team have to be called in from Texas, asthe Scranton Times Tribune has reported? That's what we're trying to figure out.
According to a plan that Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced in August 2010, a Pennsylvania-based emergency response crew should have been available to handle the blowout. The plan was created after Texas crews had to be called in to deal with two serious gas drilling accidents last summer. The first was a blowout at an EOG Resources well in Clearfield County on June 3 -- it took the Texans 16 hours to arrive at that site. The other was a fire at a Huntley & Huntley well in Allegheny County that killed two workers on July 23 -- the emergency responders showed up 11 hours later that time.
John Hanger, the DEP's former secretary, said at the time that the delay was unacceptable.
"When an accident occurs, we cannot wait 10 or more hours for a crew to fly in from halfway across the country," he said in a news release.
To remedy the situation, Hanger said that Texas-based CUDD Well Control would open a new facility in Bradford County and that 16 specially trained responders would be able to reach any well in Pennsylvania in five hours or so. If a well operator didn't respond promptly, the DEP would call in the CUDD team. Drilling companies could use CUDD, too.

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