Patriot-News: Floods didn\’t affect Marcellus Shale drilling, DEP says

Date: September 15, 2011

“Apologies folks,” Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.


The flooding from Tropical Storm Lee isn\’t the fracking mess some activists thought.

The anti-drilling environmentalist group Penn Environment posted a photo of a submerged drilling rig to its Facebook page and Tweeted it saying, “Here\’s more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains.”

Except the rig wasn\’t in the Marcellus Shale.

It wasn\’t even in the United States.

“Apologies folks,” Penn Environment later admitted: the photo was of a flooded rig in Pakistan.

Don Williams, an anti-drilling activist who runs the blog Susquehanna River Sentinel, was more careful.

When he heard Gov. Tom Corbett\’s admonition to stay out of flood waters because they were tainted, he wrote, “The floodwaters may definitely be contaminated with raw sewage, but the toxicity our good governor speaks of may not be limited to what we flush down our drains and toilets.”

He posted or linked to photos of actual flooding in the northern tier, including toppled train cars near Wyalusing.

“It is a fact that many of the areas used to transfer and/or store materials (toxic chemicals) used for hydrofracturing were flooded and may still be under several feet of water,” Williams wrote. “Additionally, overland stormwater runoff is laden with everything it flows over, around and under.”

Former Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources John Quigley asked some to go out in search of evidence of flood-related drilling pollution, such as overflowing frack ponds.

They didn\’t find much.

Yes, some well pads had standing water.

Yes, some of the storage and transfer areas for drilling materials were inundated with river water.

But the industry plans for severe weather events, representatives say.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said there were no reports of drilling related pollution incidents.

“Almost every operator in northern Pennsylvania uses a closed loop system; we simply don\’t have many flowback pits up there,” said Chris Tucker, of Energy In Depth a Washington-based industry group.

“No evidence — zero — exists anywhere indicating that any serious environmental issues relating to Marcellus development came about as a result of this flood,” said Tucker. “Talking to operators, none of them have reported any problems at all.”

Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, also an industry group, said, “Marcellus Shale producers continuously monitor operations and prepare accordingly for all contingencies, including severe weather.

“We are not aware of any adverse environmental impacts stemming from the recent flood as it pertains to Marcellus operations,” said Klaber, “and many producers have curtailed their operations in recent days to ensure problems do not arise.”

Klaber said, “Pennsylvania\’s natural gas industry is focused on helping to rebuild our communities, through cleanup assistance efforts and charitable donations.”

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Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.