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Another Dimock gas mishap

Loose hose leaks thousands of gallons of fracking fluids, twice

By FRITZ MAYER

DIMOCK, PA — “A hose connection came loose.” That, according to Cabot Oil and Gas spokesman Ken Komoroski, is what caused the spill that occurred on September 18 at a well near Dimock, PA. Estimates of the spill range from 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of fracking fluid.

The hose came loose twice, once in the afternoon and a second time in the evening.

The fluid was made up of a mixture of water and a gel used in the fracking process. The fluid flowed into a creek and a shallow wetlands area. Komoroski said the spill was contained shortly after it occurred and crews were able to siphon up most of the fluid.

Mark Carmon, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP), said that it was too early to know just how serious the contamination was, but he said that DEP crews had collected water samples from both upstream and downstream of the spill and sent them to Harrisburg for testing.

Komoroski said the fluid generally did not cause any major problems, however it may have caused a few minnows to die.

Carmon added that along with minnows, tadpoles had also been affected, “some stressed, some dead,” he said, but no larger fish were seen to have been killed. Carmon said the spilled fluid contained volatile organic compounds that are water soluble, and while Cabot contractors siphoned up all the fluid possible to recover, some would be left in the environment. Therefore, the DEP would be working closely with Cabot to determine the type of impacts the spill would have.

The spill is the latest in a number of incidents that have plagued Dimock, which is located in Susquehanna County, since the beginning of the year.

On January 1, a well belonging to Norma Fiorentino, a resident of Dimock, exploded and shattered the cement casing on top of the well, leaving her without water. Additionally, several wells in her neighborhood were found to have elevated levels of methane. An investigation by the DEP ultimately found that Cabot’s drilling had “caused or allowed gas from lower formations to enter fresh groundwater.” The company installed filtration systems in some of the homes to remove the gas and other materials related to drilling.

In February, a diesel spill occurred in a gas drilling accident at another Cabot operation. Approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into a yard when the fuel tank of a truck contracted by Cabot slid on ice and crashed.

In April, Cabot was fined for an 800-gallon diesel spill that occurred in the area the previous spring. For that incident, Cabot paid $4,000 in civil penalties and about $1,000 in emergency response costs.

DEP cited Cabot for the spills on September 22, and Cabot may be fined at a later date.

Additionally, Cabot reporter a third spill at the same well on September 22, when a hose erupted and released a different fluid used in the fracking process. Most of that fluid was said to have been recovered.