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Well Blowout in Bradford County: Families Evacuated, Susquehanna River Tributaries and Land Contaminated

April 22, 2011

Crews at work trying to stop fracking fluid leak from Cheapeake well in Bradford County PA.

To follow up on the initial reports from April 20 regarding the gas drilling emergency in Bradford County.

Video from WNEP Channel 16: Gas Well in Bradford County Spewing Liquid

Video from YNN Your News Now: Natural gas well spill leaks tainted water

Radio Interviews on WHYY Radio Times: Journalists discuss Marcellus Shale natural gas

Media alert and link to a Freedom of Information Act request  from Catskill Mountainkeeper.

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Ramsay Adams

Phone:  845-482-5400

ramsay@catskillmountainkeeper.org

Youngsville, NY(April 21, 2011) – On Tuesday, at 11:45 pm, a major blowout occurred during a fracking procedure at a Chesapeake Energy-owned natural gas well in Bradford County, PA, spilling thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water into a nearby stream that flows into the Susquehanna River.

Seven families have already been evacuated from the area, and officials have advised farmers against allowing livestock to drink from the surface water.

Despite concerted efforts of crewmembers, tainted water continued to flow from the site as recently as Thursday morning.

The blowout has left many unanswered questions, and public safety officials have said it will be days or even weeks before they are able to gather a better understanding of how this leak will affect surrounding areas.

News reports indicate serious environmental damage headed toward the Susquehanna River Basin, and Catskill Mountainkeeper has filed a FOIA request with EPA Region 3 for the release of further information.

The spill, which was caused by an equipment malfunction, occurred on the eve of the one-year anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and drills home the point that current drilling practices and procedures are simply not safe.

Existing regulatory processes for natural gas drilling have proven time and again to be woefully inadequate.

Current procedure ensures not only that natural gas companies undergo almost no safety and procedural review, but also that these same companies are shielded from having to disclose information regarding the specifics of chemicals used during fracking operations – even though many of these chemicals have proven carcinogenic and radioactive.

With all of the budget cuts the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been facing over the last couple of years, it’s hard to imagine how they might now have the resources to deal with the aftermath of this spill.

“The disregard the industry has demonstrated with regards to the oversight of their fracking operations is criminal,” says Catskill Mountainkeeper Executive Director, Ramsay Adams. “We cannot stand by while big natural gas corporations – like Chesapeake – persist in the utilization and promotion of the same sorry, unsafe drilling practices, which once again here have proven to be unsafe.  The continued implementation of such methods endangers the health and sustainability of our lands, water, and community.”

Click hereto view Catskill Mountainkeeper’s FOIA request.

Crews working to contain fracking spill at Bradford County PA Chesapeake Energy well site.

Note on a Bradford County home evacuated earlier this week. (Source:Laura Olson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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