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

  • carlos

    Does he even have a right to sue? I thought the SRBC had the authority over the waterways.

  • RHouck

    Sure it’s mainly political. I have wondered how long Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington would lag behind New York City. They are finally catching up.

  • Good question. I guess we’ll soon find out!

  • in order for the Cleanwater acte to have been violated, the Reportible Qt would have had to been exseeded and failure to notify National Responce Center. also a vilation of discharge permit issued under the authority of the Clean water Act.

    So many people on the ani-drilling camp have come across as under educated on the Law and Science. Wow , now a State Attorney General

    P.S. educate your self befor you make the public look stupid for electing you.

  • sorry spelly is lost post Cancer treatment side affects. Gets worse with time, I was a Federal On-scene Coordinator Rep for 20 yrs with several thousand oil and Chemical spill investigations and remediations under my belt. yea cancer was determined to be job related by Coast Guard medical board.

  • Henry Darcy

    No effect whatsoever? What exactly is a “short distance downstream”? It is simply irresponsible and clearly erroneous propaganda to suggest that tens of thousands of gallons of fracking fluid spilled = zero effect. (A hydrogeologist)

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