UPDATE: 1,100 Tons of Contaminated Soil Removed Last Week From Range Resources Impoundment in Washington County

By Amanda Gillooly

(PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERT DONNAN) Stock Photo of the John Day Impoundment

(PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERT DONNAN)
Stock Photo of the John Day Impoundment

A Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman on Tuesday said about 1,100 tons of dirt was trucked out of a Range Resources’ centralized impoundment last week in Amwell Township, Washington County – the site of a “significant leak” in April that led to the agency issuing a Notice of Violation to the Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company.
DEP spokesman John Poister said it is likely that 2,100 tons of contaminated soil will ultimately need to be removed from the site.

“It’s a mountain of soil,” he said.

He confirmed that the leak is “serious enough” that a DEP inspector has been on scene at the John Day impoundment nearly every day.

“This is something we are taking very seriously,” he said, adding that DEP is committed to getting to the bottom of why the impoundment’s leak detection system didn’t work.

“This is a case where it failed miserably,” Poister said of the leak detection system. “Our concern is how long did this leak go unnoticed? We’re upset about this – the extent of the leak and why it wasn’t spotted earlier.”

He added it was “obvious to our people that this is not a small thing.”

Right now crews at the John Day impoundment are working to ensure tarps are secured to keep rain water out, and he said Range Resources was dealing with runoff issues Tuesday.

Poister said the first step in the remediation process is the removal and replacement of contaminated soil.

No timeline was available for the completion of that step, however. Poister said rain has slowed progress of work at the site.

A soil analysis was not yet available on Tuesday, but Poister confirmed that initial water quality tests indicated that chloride – or salt –  is the primary contaminant.

“Salt is very damaging,” Poister explained.

The soil is being transported out of the site using an existing Form U. The company responsible for the cleanup efforts, Weavertown Environmental, is currently in the process of obtaining a new Form U, he said.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Range Resources, and Poister said a civil penalty is possible, too. That, though, is be the final step in the process.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking further information for this story.

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