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Consol Energy might be fined for spill from Marcellus shale well

Brian C. Rittmeyer

Consol Energy may be fined for an accidental, small spill of flowback water from a Marcellus shale natural gas well in Washington Township in August, a spokesman with the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.

The spill happened on the evening of Aug. 10 when workers were draining a storage tank, spokesman John Poister said.

An unknown amount of water, which came back up from the well, leaked from the tank into a containment area.

The containment area is intended to catch spills, but there was a hole in its liner and some water seeped into the soil.

The affected soil, filling about two 50-gallon drums, was removed and replaced with clean soil, Poister said. He said the cleanup work was completed before inspectors visited the site the following day.

Poister could not say exactly where the well site was located, or its proximity to the Beaver Run Reservoir.

No waterways were affected by the spill, he said.

Poister said DEP estimates less than 10 gallons of water leaked through the containment into the soil. The storage tank can hold 500 barrels of frack water.

“This was not a large spill. It was cleaned up very promptly,” Poister said. “They responded correctly.”

Consol acknowledged that the incident happened as the DEP described.

“On Aug. 10, less than 10 gallons of rainwater and produced fluid escaped from a hole in a containment liner at a well site in Westmoreland County,” spokeswoman Kate O'Donovan said in an e-mail. “The appropriate agencies were immediately notified and the impacted soil was excavated and removed. No further environmental impacts occurred.”

The agency has suggested Consol test samples of the soil to ensure all the contamination was removed, Poister said.

Poister said the company violated DEP regulations related to failure to contain residual waste resulting in a release to the ground.

DEP officials will determine whether a civil penalty will be imposed.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or [email protected].


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