Although there’s been no publicly published notice, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Sunoco Logistics for spilling non-toxic drilling mud (bentonite) at several locations when they were drilling for the Mariner East I pipeline. One of those instances was last September when Precision Pipeline, hired by Sunoco, was drilling under the Little Mingo Creek (see Mariner East Pipeline Drilling Spills Mud in Local Creek). Bentonite is non-toxic and used in products from shampoo to deodorant and toothpaste. It’s also used to lubricate the drill bit and carry drill cuttings out of the ground. While non-toxic, a whole lot of bentonite in the water can, of course, suffocate fish and cause problems for wildlife that happen to drink it. In March of this year, we noted that the DEP was telegraphing that they were about to assess a “significant” fine for the mud spills at Mingo Creek and a few other locations (see PA DEP: Sunoco Facing “Significant” Fine for Non-Toxic Mud Spills). The fine has been levied. The “significant” fine ended up being $95,000. Clipping Sunoco $95K, compared to the $8.9 million fine the DEP recently slapped on Range Resources for methane leaks, seems somewhat trivial and rather insignificant. Which is perhaps why the DEP hasn’t published, as they usually do, an official notice on their website about the fine…
Last September MDN told you about a drilling mud spill that ended up in Little Mingo Creek in Washington County, PA (see Mariner East Pipeline Drilling Spills Mud in Local Creek). Sunoco Logistics was using a contractor to drill under the creek when the drill bit hit something really hard and broke, and the mud poured out of a ruptured hole and into the creek. Fortunately the mud, which is a substance called bentonite, is non-toxic and used in products from shampoo to deodorant and toothpaste. However, in sufficient quantities it can suffocate aquatic life. We didn’t think much about that incident until we spotted a story that says the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is about issue Sunoco Logistics a fine for that accident–a really big fine…
Little did we know it at the time, but former PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Chris Abruzzo’s last public interview was granted to MDN editor, Jim Willis, just three weeks ago before Abruzzo resigned (see PA DEP Sec. Abruzzo’s Last Public Interview…with MDN). Topic A that Jim asked Sec. Abruzzo was about the recent record fine of Range Resources ($4.15 million) for a series of leaky wastewater impoundments. Abruzzo stated during that interview, several times, that newer “next generation” impoudments have come along that are much safer. What are these “next generation” impoundments and are they really safer?…
In Mach 2013 Carrizo Oil & Gas was fracking a Marcellus Shale well in Wyoming County, PA when they lost control of the well and wastewater and brine started coming out of the well faster than they could handle it–about 800 gallons a minute. Eventually about 200,000 gallons of wastewater and brine overflowed at the site (see Carrizo Problem Fracking NE PA Well, Evacuates 3 Nearby Families). About a month later, after investigating the damage, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) allowed Carrizo to resume their fracking and drilling operations in that area (see Carrizo Resumes Fracking at Site of Spill in Wyoming County, PA). It’s now more than a year later and the DEP has just handed Carrizo a $192,044 fine for failing to keep control of the well, which resulted “in environmental degradation and the evacuation of citizens from their homes.” The fine also covers a second, much smaller incident that happened in April 2013…
An Arizona company, Southeast Directional Drilling, was hired by Enterprise Products Partners to drill a trenchless hole underneath Conotton Creek in Harrison County, OH for Enterprise’s ATEX Express ethane pipeline–a pipeline that will stretch from Pennsylvania through Ohio and eventually all the way to the Gulf. However, Southeast hit a snag. Last week an “unknown quantity” of drilling mud used to lubricate the drill was spilled into Conotton Creek and onto the properties of two area homeowners.
Fortunately drilling mud is non-toxic–but in sufficient quantities it can suffocate both plants and fish. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is on the case investigating…
PVR Marcellus Gas Gathering, a PA-based midstream company, was fined $150,000 this week by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection for four episodes of “discharge violations” that happened while PVR was constructing the Coal Mountain pipeline in Lycoming County, PA in 2011. The DEP slapped them hard because, says the DEP, the company kept repeating the same violation–discharging bentonite (impure clay) into a local creek. PVR Marcellus Gas Gathering is a subsidiary of PVR Partners (formerly Penn Virginia Resource Partners).
The DEP announcement:
Laser Northeast Gathering recently broke ground is quickly working to complete a new 30-mile shale gas pipeline, called the Susquehanna Gathering System, that spans much of Susquehanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania and crosses the southeast corner of Broome County in New York State where the pipeline will connect to the larger Millennium interstate pipeline (see this MDN story).
But Laser is having troubles with drilling underneath Laurel Lake Creek, a waterway considered to have “exceptional value” by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. In the span of just a few weeks, drilling under the creek resulted in three separate incidents of non-toxic drilling mud being spilled into the creek, the latest incident occurring on Monday.