DEP fines Chesapeake Appalachia, Schlumberger for acid spill in Asylum Twp.
The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Chesapeake Appalachia LLC and Schlumberger Technology Corp. $15,557 each for a 295-gallon hydrochloric acid spill at Chesapeake's Chancellor natural gas well site in Asylum Township, according to a press release issued by the environmental agency on Monday.
"Fortunately, this hazardous waste spill was promptly reported, which proved critical in limiting the environmental damage," said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell.
Chesapeake staff notified the DEP on Feb. 9 that a 21,000-gallon tank containing 36 percent hydrochloric acid was leaking, the press release said. The acid was used for hydraulic fracturing, the release said.
When a DEP inspector arrived at the site, it was determined that the tank had two leaks and was losing about 7.5 gallons per hour of hydrochloric acid, the DEP said.
Chesapeake's emergency contractor arrived that evening and removed free-standing acid from the ground with absorbent pads; excavated trenches to contain the acid; neutralized acid-contaminated soil with soda ash and hydrated lime; and transferred about 11,000 gallons of acid from the leaking tank to two temporary tanks, the DEP said.
About 126 tons of contaminated soil had to be excavated, and more than 13,800 gallons of a hydrochloric acid and water mixture were removed from the well site, the press release said.
The leak did not contaminate ground water, said DEP spokesman Dan Spadoni.
"The fluid went onto the ground at the site, where it was contained, neutralized and removed with no permanent environmental damage," said Brian Grove, director of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy Corp., the parent company of Chesapeake Appalachia.
Chesapeake Energy staff, who discovered the leak, took immediate steps to begin cleanup of the spill, Grove said.
"We have reviewed the circumstances of this event in great detail and as a result, we have implemented new ... procedures including the use of secondary containment mechanisms to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future," Grove said.
Schlumberger issued a written statement about the incident, which says that the leak involved fluids that are "commonly used in oilfield operations."
"The fluids (that leaked) did not come into contact with any water sources in the area," Schlumberger said in the statement. "Schlumberger conducted a full investigation into the cause of the incident so that the repetition of such an incident can be avoided. Schlumberger and Chesapeake have worked cooperatively to modify operational procedures that enhance communications to achieve greater fluid handling and containment controls. This includes implementing a process that ensures containment is around all tank and equipment that is under the control and responsibility of Schlumberger."
The fines were paid to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the DEP said.
The entrance to the well is located on state Route 2024, about 300 yards east of the intersection of state routes 2024 and 2017, said Asylum Township Supervisor Kevin Barrett.
Schlumberger, which is based in Sugar Land, Texas, is a service company for the natural gas industry, Spadoni said.
Chesapeake, which holds the DEP permit for the well, had contracted with Schlumberger to provide services for the development of gas wells, including the hydraulic fracturing of this particular well, Spadoni said.
Chesapeake Appalachia LLC is a natural gas exploration company located in Charleston, W. Va.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.