Friday, June 4, 2010

Out-of-control well spews--in Pennsylvania

[This post was updated with additional story links
and a video clip at 
11:51 p.m. on June 4, 2010]

Pennsylvania's environmental regulators are promising an aggressive investigation into what caused a natural gas well to erupt last night, shooting gas and fracking fluids 75 feet into the air.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reported today that:

"At approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the operators of the well, which is owned by EOG Resources, Inc., lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale. As a result, the well released natural gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was eventually capped around noon on June 4. "

DEP Secretary John Hanger called the incident "serious" and said it "could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property.” 

"“When we arrived on scene, natural gas and frack fluid was flowing off the well pad and heading toward tributaries to Little Laurel Run and gas was shooting into the sky, creating a significant fire hazard," Hanger said. "That’s why emergency responders acted quickly to cut off electric service to the area."

Hanger said the DEP would investigate "where things went wrong and what enforcement action is necessary."

The blowout comes at a sensitive time for the oil and gas industry which is fighting off calls for tighter environmental regulations in the wake of the ongoing, deep-water oil well eruption in the Gulf of Mexico.


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