PA DEP Fines TerrAqua for Frack Water Spill in March 2011

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finally gotten around to assessing a fine for a fracking water spill that happened in March 2011—a spill of 800-1,000 gallons of fracking water that the DEP says was preventable.

The Department of Environmental Protection has fined TerrAqua Resource Management LLC of Williamsport, Lycoming County, $18,500 for a March 2011 hydraulic fracturing, or frack, water spill at the company’s treatment facility in Lycoming County.

“This spill of between 800 and 1,000 gallons of frack water was caused by operator error,” DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber said. “Accidents like this can be prevented.”

The spill occurred when TerrAqua employees were in the process of filling three frack water storage tanks that overflowed into the containment system. The containment berms were not elevated enough and were too close to the tanks to contain the frack water.

A DEP investigation determined that the overflow occurred because the operator was not able to shut off the pump quickly enough after the alarm system displayed that the levels were high. The release was halted by opening valves to other storage tanks, allowing the frack water to flow into them.

TerrAqua hired an environmental remediation company to respond to the spill and about 750 gallons were recovered. The remainder entered a storm drain that discharges to the Susquehanna River. Because of the volume, no impact to the river was expected.

The spill was a violation of the Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Streams Law and the company’s general permit.*

*Pennsylvania DEP (Jan 13, 2012) – DEP Fines TerrAqua Resource Management for Frack Water Spill