Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake Energy Over Spill in Pennsylvania

Douglas F GanslerMaryland’s Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, has filed an “intent to sue” on Chesapeake Energy because of the accidental spill of fracking fluid in April in Leroy Township, PA (read MDN’s story about the spill here). Mr. Gansler’s rationale for his litigiousness is that the fluid reached a small stream that feeds the Towanda Creek, and the Towanda Creek in turn empties into the Susquehanna River, and the Susquehanna River empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Therefore, according to Gansler, several federal statutes have been violated, including the Clean Water Act. Also, the City of Baltimore uses the Susquehanna as a backup source of water “in times of drought.”

Gansler told the company the spill "may pose … an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of the population adjacent to the well site, recreational users of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River and to the environment."*

Makes no difference that Chesapeake a) immediately suspended all Marcellus drilling until they figured out what happened, b) replaced the faulty equipment at the well once they did discover the problem, c) have tested and re-tested around the site to assess the environmental impact, d) are working with the PA Department of Environment and its investigation of the accident. A neighboring state, hundreds of miles away, will now sue this private company. Way to go Maryland.

Chesapeake’s response:

Brian Grove, senior director for corporate development at Chesapeake Energy Corp., said testing during the spill revealed "limited and very localized environmental impact, with no adverse effects on aquatic wildlife in Towanda Creek."

Testing in the Susquehanna a short distance downstream found "no effect whatsoever," he said. "We are confident there will be zero impact hundreds of miles away. The Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay face many environmental threats; this event is not one of them."*

*The Baltimore Sun (May 2, 2011) – Maryland will sue in Susquehanna tributary ‘fracking’ spill