EQT Drilling Causes Coal Mine Water to Leak in Mon River

An accident related to shale drilling is responsible for dumping some (not sure how much) acid mine drainage (AMD) from an abandoned coal mine into the Monongahela River last weekend. Which sounds worse than it actually is. Water that seeps into old coal mines mixes with pyrite (iron-sulfide) and oxidizes, turning the water an orange/brown color. The water becomes somewhat acidic. We previously talked at length about acid mine drainage coming from the Old Forge bore hole near Scranton, and about Marcellus money being used to help clean it up (see Marcellus Drilling Helps Fix Biggest Polluter of Chesapeake Bay). The Old Forge bore hole pours 60-100 million (!) gallons of AMD into the Lackawanna River EACH DAY. Yes, it is a problem, but PA has been living with it for the past 50+ years–and people aren’t keeling over dead from it. With that as background, a contractor working for EQT was drilling under a roadway in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) to install a water pipe for EQT’s fracking operations when they hit an abandoned mine and the water collected in it began pouring out–and into the Mon River. It didn’t take long to contain the leak and stop it from reaching the Mon. How many gallons actually went into the river? We don’t have any word on that, but we can’t image it was more than a few thousand gallons. In the larger scheme of things, a relative drop in the bucket. Here’s what we do know…

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