Sen. Casey Wrong Again – Bradford, PA House Explosion Due to Abandoned Gas Wells, Not Marcellus Drilling

A few weeks ago U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), wrote to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to ask him to investigate two house explosions in Bradford Township, PA (see MDN’s story here). Casey said he strongly believed the cause of the explosions was from migrating methane gas (natural gas) from “extensive new deep drilling activities” in the area. That is, those nasty, filthy Marcellus drillers caused it. Don’t look now Mr. Casey, but….oops. You were wrong again. The real cause was abandoned gas wells drilled 100 years ago.

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are ordering a resident near the site of a Feb. 28 house explosion in Bradford to plug three abandoned natural gas wells.

The Department of Environmental Protection said Friday it learned of the wells while investigating the cause of the blast. The wells aren’t related to Marcellus Shale drilling.

State officials say one of the wells, about 300 feet from the destroyed home, has to be plugged first. It was drilled in 1881, while the other two date back nearly a century.*

*CBS 21/AP (Apr 8, 2011) – Pa. orders 3 gas wells near explosion site plugged

  • Morgan

    Could those old wells have been affected by Facing? Of course they could… If you blow up a balloon and it has a hole in it the air finds the path of least resistance… That plug was old too..No one could have expected pressure from the recent improvement in facing to be released…
    I am pro facing,but you have to consider all aspects… Again, your taking a stance of the other side is wrong without any due consideration…. I take the side of caution and science…especially “Cause and effect”… Just an opinion… Not an argument…

  • Bob Rosen

    So you don’t think abandoned wells are a danger? And what about all the abandoned wells that the gas industry will leave behind after they’re finished? Not their liability? Just screw everyone who’ll still be here. Let THEM worry about it and clean up the friggin’ mess.

  • throwthebumsout

    Some important questions to consider:

    1. The wells have been around for 130 years; how old was this person’s home? Why did it not have a catastrophic explosion until just recently?

    2. What are the chances that another home in the area would also have exploded within 2 months of this accident?

    3. Why did the drilling company offer natural gas detectors to home owners in this area? Is this a common practice, and if so, WHY?

    4. Where is the official statement placing the blame directly on these abandoned wells, and with no other probable cause?

    5. Is it not worrisome that these old wells’ casings are failing, and that in the distant future, the same thing will happen to these “nasty, filthy” Marcellus wells?

    Before claiming “victory” and pointing fingers, MDN, let’s be absolutely thorough and certain of the facts.

  • Jim Willis

    Perhaps you might also apply the same standard to Sen. Casey? Maybe he should get his facts straight before pointing fingers and coming to conclusions?? Works both ways!

  • throwthebumsout

    You’re right, getting the facts straight before jumping to conclusions does work both ways. I was simply implying that right now, no one knows for sure who is right or wrong. There are too many unanswered questions. What one ‘believes’ or ‘suspects’ to be the cause is irrelevant at this point, but to call someone out and state that they are wrong is not appropriate – yet.

  • Anonymous

    I own property where they release natural gas from wells that were drilled more than a century ago, some dating to the 1950s. While drilling for natural gas in the same area is a seperate issue causing recent debate, it is important to understand the two matters are different and are not controlled by the same forces. So second-hand accounts are only so valuable, but when you begin blindly associating various effects with irrelevant causes it leads to a lot of misinformed ranting with no viable solutions.

  • Jim Willis

    So the “sins” of the past should forever sentence those in the present as guilty? Is that the new standard? We have new regulations, strict regulations, and a much safer way of extracting gas. Would you rather go back to burning candles and riding a horse as your forms of “energy”? That’s your option. Precious alternatives are no where near ready to take up the slack if fossil fuels and their extraction is ended–within the next 50-100 years.

  • xboxershorts

    Are you asserting that sacrificing a few Americans lives and property and water is OK in the furtherance of our addiction to fossil fuels?

    Just want to make sure I get your position right because it sounds like you’re fine and dandy with screwing over some of your fellow Americans because fossil fuels are awesome or something like that….

    And hey, I would venture to say that Wind, Solar, GeoThermal and BioDiesels are a whole lot further along than you would ;like to acknowledge.

  • xboxershorts

    And yeah, if these are conduits to the surface for the stuff that’s under the surface (and peer reviewed studies say that they are) then absolutely, the sins of this industry’s past really do need to be addressed before they try to proceed any further.

  • Jim Willis

    You go first smart guy. You go for a SINGLE DAY without using any kind of fossil fuel or the results of fossil fuels. You won’t get out of bed without using something made from or powered by fossil fuels. Are you that blind? Really? That willfully obtuse?

    I’m all in favor of renewables like wind and solar et al. The problem is, they won’t be supplying the bulk of our energy for at least 50 years, more like 100 years. Too bad you and I will be long dead when my prophetic words are proven true by future generations looking back at this site in some internet archive.

  • xboxershorts

    Lo that I had that opportunity. Sadly, the fossil fuel industry all but killed the bio diesel industry in 1937 with help from it’s corporate friends at DuPont and Hearst when the marijuana Tax act of 1937 was passed which included the most useful plant on the planet, which we already knew how to turn into plastic, resins, fuels and construction products and marijuana’s totally non intoxicating relative, hemp.

    Everything we make out of petroleum distillates, we knew how to do with plant resins in the 1930’s…

    There have been alternatives for generations. This industry lobbies very heavily to keep them off the market. In fact, it spends 10s of millions telling people how wonderful fossil fuels are…and that nothing else can ever replace them.

    And they lie on our airwaves about the safety of this “new” process regularly. You should spend a weekend in a development called “The Woodlands”…it’s about an hour north of Pittsburgh. All the pets died, the birds even left.

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