Drilling Caused Methane in Water Wells

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 @ 05:01 PM gHale


Methane found in three private water wells in Lenox Township, PA, seeped there from a flawed natural gas well drilled by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., said state environmental regulators.

An investigation by the Department of Environmental Protection determined the gas migrated from at least one of three Marcellus Shale wells on the Stalter well pad about a half-mile west of Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County, PA.

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The gas seeped into three water supplies in August. A fourth water well for a hunting cabin is still under evaluation, DEP spokesman Daniel Spadoni said.

Video from inside one of Cabot’s gas wells showed a string of steel casing meant to seal off the aquifer from contaminants suffered from improper construction, according to a notice of violation sent by DEP in September.

Methane was also between the cemented strings of casing in all three gas wells on the Stalter pad, a sign state regulators view as evidence of flaws in a well’s construction.

The dissolved methane in one nearby water supply jumped from 0.3 milligrams per liter before drilling began to 49 milligrams per liter on Aug. 16 and 57 milligrams per liter on Aug. 18, according to the violation notice.

Cabot installed methane detection alarms in three homes and vented the three affected water wells to keep the methane from accumulating and creating an explosion risk. The company is also delivering replacement drinking water to two of the homes, Spadoni said. The methane in the third water well decreased so the home does not require an alternate water supply, he said.

Cabot spokesman George Stark said Friday the company submitted a detailed response to the DEP and is working with regulators on the issue.

“Cabot is committed to safe and responsible operations and takes matters like this very seriously,” he said. “We believe in fact-based, scientific research to guide any necessary corrective actions.”



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