Exactly one year after the BP disaster in the Gulf, local television crews and the Associated Press are reporting that a Chesapeake well being hydraulically fractured, or “fracked,” for natural gas went out of control in the Bradford County, PA township of Leroy late last night, “spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze.”
Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial gas extraction technique in which companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force out the gas.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:
“We appear to be marking the one-year anniversary of the oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico with a gas well blowout in Pennsylvania today. Considering the sad state of regulatory enforcement in Pennsylvania and other drilling states, it is sadly not at all surprising. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has all but completely turned over environmental oversight to the gas drilling industry—requiring inspectors with first-hand knowledge of problems on the ground to get individual approval from the Deputy Executive Secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection before issuing any violations to gas drillers. For all we know, a notice of violation for the Bradford County site has been sitting on the DEP Deputy’s desk for a week.
“And yesterday’s announcement asking drillers to keep gas drilling wastewater out of rivers and streams is, frankly, small comfort. All the Governor has done is to ask nicely. He has not backed up his request with any enforcement orders. Even if companies choose to do as he’s asked, the massive quantities of polluted water industry is generating has to go somewhere. If, instead of dumping wastewater into rivers and streams, we see them start spraying it over roads and fields—a practice innocuously dubbed ‘landfarming’ by industry—then we are going from bad to worse.
“How many wells need to blow out, how many people need to get sick, how many communities need to be devastated before elected leaders say ‘enough is enough.’ The gas has been there for millions of years, it can stay there a little longer until we figure how—and if—we can extract it safely.”
Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.