Nearly a year after an accident which happened during hydraulic fracturing of a gas well in Tioga County, PA, the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Talisman Energy $51,478. From a DEP press release issued yesterday:
The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Talisman Energy USA Inc. of Warrendale, Butler County, $51,478 for a January 2011 gas well control incident at the company’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 587 #8 well pad in Ward Township, Tioga County.
“Equipment failure during fracing on Jan. 17 caused about 21,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid and sand to be released for about three hours,” DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber said. “Fortunately, Talisman responded quickly and most of the release did not escape secondary containment.”
The fluid discharged from the head of the well under high pressure, tearing the well pad’s secondary containment liner for several yards. Vacuum trucks recovered the fluid on the well pad. No streams, wetlands or private drinking water wells were impacted by the spill.
A department inspection conducted Jan. 25 confirmed that Talisman staff had repaired the damaged liner, replaced the failed equipment and removed contaminated soil beneath the liner.
An investigation by DEP’s Oil and Gas Program and Talisman staff determined that the cause of the incident was a needle valve that had failed and could not be shut off. To regain control of the well, the hydraulic valve above the master valve was remotely closed and fluid was allowed to flow back through the production test separator. A new pipe connector called a hammer union was also installed and closed.*
*PA Department of Environmental Protection (Jan 4, 2012) – DEP Fines Talisman Energy USA for Tioga County Well Control Incident Company Lost Control of Natural Gas Well for Three Hours