State environmental officials are investigating three separate spills at a gas well pad in Lycoming County.
It is not the first time the company Pennsylvania General Energy has been in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s crosshairs.
Last spring residents along Pine Creek north of Jersey Shore were outraged when high waters washed away a temporary stone dam.
The dam was put in the creek by PGE, but did not have proper approval from the state.
Now some of those same residents are concerned after three spills at the same PGE natural gas well pad near the creek.
Mark Givler lives where Ramsey Run empties into Pine Creek along Route 44 north of Jersey Shore. Recently Givler heard there had been a spill at a gas well pad less than a mile from his home. He began to worry that whatever had spilled might have made its way into his well water.
“There had been a spill of some kind at a well pad located on the ridge line above my house probably 3,000 to 4,000 feet from my house,” said Givler.
It turns out Givler’s information was close to what the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection already knew.
Environmental officials said PGE told them about three spills last month at a well pad in Cummings Township. One spill was diesel fuel, the others amounted to thousands of gallons of brine, which is extremely salty water that comes from the drilling process.
The DEP sent the company notice of violation letters and said any further action is under discussion.
“We’ve received no satisfactory explanation as to why it happened nor have we received assurances it won’t happen again,” added Givler.
That is one of the biggest concerns Givler has, aside from the quality of his well water. DEP officials came to do tests and Givler said he will not drink his well water until he knows it has not been contaminated.
Still, Givler knows PGE is still operating several wells near his home and that worries him.
“There’s no avoiding this, no matter how careful they are, it’s going to happen,” Givler added.
Officials with the DEP said they are investigating the spills and would not comment any further.
PGE released a statement saying, “Pennsylvania General Energy personnel and on-location contractors responded to three incidents at the company’s 729C drilling location during the month of January involving small quantities of diesel fuel that had leaked as a result of a faulty fuel filter on a truck, and brine water that was being used to prevent freezing in water lines.
All of these spills were contained on the drilling pad, and were addressed according to best management practices. Each was also reported to the appropriate state agencies. PGE is continuing to work in coordination and cooperation these agencies to ensure these incidents are resolved properly.”