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Unfolding Story: Flowback Leaked from Fracking Pit in Tioga County; Pit Liner Full of Holes

July 6, 2012

Two months after the problem was first discovered, we are finally able to report the general story of a massive leak in a “freshwater” impoundment in Duncan Township, Tioga County.  Although labeled “freshwater,” the impoundment actually contained flowback, a toxic brew of fracking chemicals plus naturally occurring poisons like arsenic and radium 226, salts, and hydrocarbons.

Until Ralph Kisberg of the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA) spent the day in the DEP office reviewing reports from the scene and generously shared his work with us, all we had was this:

  • The dates and official names of the violations at EQT’s Phoenix Resources well 590934, available with some digging at the DEP’s eFacts website
  • DEP Spokesman Daniel Spadoni’s vague public statement:

“The department has been investigating a leaking flowback impoundment at EQT’s Phoenix Resources site for several weeks […] Several seeps with elevated conductivity have been identified in the area surrounding the impoundment. Slightly elevated conductivity also was detected downstream in Rock Run. Water samples were collected but we have not yet received the results. “

Today, the RDA published a short story and Kisberg’s findings in its newsletter and its website.

So far, we’ve learned that:

  • The “freshwater” impoundment, Impoundment 2, actually contained flowback from Phoenix Pad C.
  • Various holes, seeps, and leaks were found starting May 8th, 2012, through June 11, 2012, after the impoundment was finally drained at the insistence of the DEP.
  • The impoundment’s liner had between 75 and 100 holes.
  • The first leak came from a line between the impoundment and Phoenix well pad S.  The 12″ line had a known hole from its use at another site, but EQT forgot to patch the hole and never pressure-tested the line.
  • Seeps and leaks occured upgradient of a wetland system and Rock Run, a trout fishing area, and resulting stressed vegetation was noted in the area.
  • Finaly, on June 14th, public water samples were taken, but the DEP was only “under the impression” that EQT had alerted the Wellsboro Municipal Water Authority, and Duncan Township residents hadn’t been notified of the potential risk to their wells.

Because there are so many leaks and occurences to sort through, I have drafted a rough diagram of the impoundment and timeline. A few of the locations might be off, such as the channel and a few seeps, but I hope to get information for a final version by early next week. We’ll also have a more in-depth story on the surprising (though it shouldn’t be at this point), disappointing information in the DEP’s reports. By next week, maybe EQT will finally have gotten around to “expediting” to the DEP the results of the public water tests it did over three weeks ago.

Impoundment 2

A rough diagram made with my rudimentary Illustrator skills. Dates and quantities are correct, relative locations may not be.

  1. Eric permalink
    July 6, 2012 8:19 pm

    Hello, my name is Eric and I work with a community organization in West Chester, PA that is organizing a panel on fracking and we would like to discuss the possibility of having someone from Protecting Our Waters participate. We would also like to use the event to help build support for the July 28th demonstration in D.C. and hopefully get some folks on the bus too. The only problem is that I can’t seem to find any contact information on the site. I respect the fact that everyone is incredibly busy but would really appreciate being able to connect with someone in the next day or two if at all possible. You have my email and I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and all that you do.

  2. balckbart permalink
    July 6, 2012 8:42 pm

    There was a hole in the Phelps/Chief impoundment in Lathrop Twp (near Hop Bottom) a couple of weeks ago. It was emptied with regular tank trucks, then a vacuum type truck with men in the bottom with brooms. The worker pointed to a hole when I was there. He said they had to suck out 4 inches of muck, frogs, turtles, etc…..
    The muck was going to a land fill according to the worker.

  3. Kathy permalink
    July 7, 2012 12:32 pm

    Fracking needs to stop before it is to late, May be already. Who knows what the water will be like in PA

  4. July 7, 2012 9:26 pm

    The liner of a disposal pit near my water had holes, I reported it; they covered it up with a new liner. There were violations for improper storage and disposal of waste at the same site,
    was I notified? NO

  5. john schwarzenbach permalink
    July 20, 2012 11:53 pm

    Some people think it is safe to remove gas from shale, especially when they are earning money from it, and as long as they can visit but not have to live in the area of their dirty, bloody money well.


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