By Jim Hamill and Sarah Buynovsky 4-20-11
Officials said thousands of gallons of fluid leaked over farm land and into a creek from a natural gas well in Bradford County.
Chesapeake Energy officials said Wednesday night the leak had been contained and the situation was stable..
The rupture near Canton happened late Tuesday night, contaminating nearby land and creeks.
The blowout happened on the Morse family farm in LeRoy Township outside Canton, a farming community.
Chesapeake Energy officials said a piece of equipment on the well failed.
A major response was launched to stop the leak of frack fluid and get control of the well.
Water gushed from the earth at the Chesapeake well pad for hours Wednesday. It was all hands on deck to put a stop to the leak of fracking fluid that, according to company officials, spilled thousands and thousands of gallons into nearby land and waterways. Company officials stressed no gas leaked.
"We've been able to limit the flow. We're still doing additional work to regain full control," said Brian Grove of Chesapeake Energy. He added there is no telling yet how much of that extremely salty water mixed with chemicals and sand has impacted the nearby Towanda Creek, but no gas has escaped into the air.
"The biggest thing is the footprint on the environment. Well obviously this is a big footprint," said neighbor Ted Tomlinson. "It's one of those things that happens. Gotta live with it, I guess. Here to stay."
Neighbors like him were asked to leave their homes as a precaution. Some did, and some did not. "Our family's been on this corner a long time and expect to stay and expect a good-faith effort from Chesapeake so that we can live here," Tomlinson added.
His concern is for his drinking water well just several football fields away from the blownout gas well.
"That's typically everyone's concern in the area, is well water," Tomlinson added. We don't want all that other stuff. We want to keep on drinking it."
"It's just one of those things," said farm owner Randy Morse. He leased his property to Chesapeake. His beef cattle will no longer be able to drink from the brook that has been contaminated. Morse is broken up over the whole thing, hoping others don't blame him. "As it looks right now, all the water that ran into that tributary did run into the creek , without adverse affects right now," Morse said.
Neighbor Ira Haire is one who does not worry over the leak, saying he trusts Chesapeake will make it right. "I will drink my water. I have salt water as it is," Haire said.
Officials with DEP said the flow of frack fluid has stopped flowing into the nearby creek and its tributary.
Public safety officials in Bradford County said they, along with DEP, will continue to monitor the Towanda Creek which empties into the Susquehanna River. According to officials with Chesapeake Energy, the fluids that spilled all over farm land and into the creek have a very high salt content and contain numerous chemicals used to fracture the rock below.
"We've got our best crews out here working on it and we'll keep at it until we get the situation resolved," Grove added.
Officials have not said how long they expect to get the well under control.
DEP said they have crews monitoring the waterways and drinking wells and that aquatic life has not been affected yet.