Fracking Safety: Methane in Water Wells

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 @ 05:05 PM gHale

Issues behind fracking seem to keep creeping to the surface as methane gas bubbled to the top of three residential water wells and two streams in Bradford County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, near a Chesapeake Energy Marcellus Shale gas drilling operation.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said it, along with Chesapeake, is continuing to investigate the source of the methane gas that began showing up in the water wells, two tributaries of Towanda Creek and a nearby wetland in Leroy Township last week.

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Chesapeake’s Morse well pad, which has two Marcellus gas wells, is about a half mile from the affected homes, according to a statement issued Thursday by Dan Spadoni, a DEP spokesman.

Spadoni said DEP Oil and Gas Program staffers collected gas samples at both wells Tuesday for the purposes of running isotopic gas fingerprinting tests. On Wednesday, DEP staff monitored water wells that were bubbling with methane and checked the homes for methane.

Spadoni said they vented all three residential wells and Chesapeake installed methane monitoring alarms. A mobile water treatment unit went in at one home and a temporary water supply tank, commonly referred to as a “water buffalo,” went up at another. Two homes are receiving bottled water.

Chesapeake did not respond to a request for comment, but DEP said a company consultant is continuing to assess private water wells at the three affected homes as well as other water wells around the Morse well pad.

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