A Bradford County natural gas well is back under control, after a hydraulic fracturing fluid leak that lasted nearly 20 hours.
Chesapeake Energy says initial testing has found little impact on waterways from the spill. The company says the problem began just before midnight Tuesday, during “well completion activities” at a Leroy Township site.
Skip Roupp, the Deputy Director for Bradford County’s Emergency Management Agency, says there are some homes downhill from the spill. "Did the water get into people’s wells? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know yet. But those will be things to determine,” he said in an interview with Binghamton, New York-based public radio station WSKG.
Seven families were temporarily evacuated because of the spill, which was contained on Wednesday evening. All but one have returned to their homes. Chesapeake maintains there weren’t any injuries or gas emissions.
Chesapeake says crews have built a containment system to divert tainted water from Towanda Creek.
Roupp estimated “thousands of gallons” of chemical and salt-laden fracking fluid spilled from the site. “It’s an environmental problem. …If it got down to where the trout were, if it gets salty it would kill the fish.” As big of a mess the spill is, Roupp pointed out it could have been worse. “I’m much happier with it being water than gas,” he said. “If it were gas – if we had a major blowout with gas, then we would have a major explosion, which we didn’t have. Or we would have unexploded gas, which is an even bigger concern for me.”
The company blames equipment failure for causing the blowout. Fracking fluid spewed out of the well bore, escaped containment, crossed over farm fields and went into a stream.