Monthly Archives: June 2014

DEP: ‘My Bad,’ Range Resources Never Tested Soil at Leaking Impoundment for Drilling Chemicals

 

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken by Robert Donnan, who kindly allowed me to use it.

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken by Robert Donnan, who kindly allowed me to use it.

Ever since the state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed a “significant leak” at a Range Resources centralized open impoundment in Washington County that required the excavation and removal of thousands of tons of soil, both the company and the department were adamant: The only contaminant was chloride – just salt.

Poister told the Observer-Reporter earlier this month, “Inspections revealed chloride in the soil and groundwater, which was a result of Southpointe-based Range Resources storing brine water in the impoundment, but no other materials or chemicals.”

But the reason might surprise you: Chlorides have only been detected because chlorides are the only thing Range Resources had its contractor test for, a DEP spokesman confirmed Monday.

This is contrary to information DEP spokesman John Poister gave Marcellus Monitor last week. On Thursday he said that “additional chemicals associated with drilling” had been detected in the contaminated soil during a “wider array” of testing.

“This is my bad,” Poister said Monday.

He explained that he had misheard the inspector, who had indicated that only conductivity testing had been completed at the site – what he described as being the “quickest” way to determine the extent of contamination – and that DEP would require that additional testing be completed.

But Poister was clear: Those wider array of tests are to be completed only after all the soil has been cleared from the site.

“That’s the protocol, we’ve got to get the soil out of there,” he explained. “We don’t jump the steps. The chief thing is to get that soil out.”

It was not clear how Range Resources would test soil after it had been hauled from the site.

Asked if DEP would conduct its own tests on soil at the Jon Day impoundment, Poister indicated that was not the role of the regulatory agency.

“The permit states (Range Resources) is required to do the testing. I don’t know beyond that,” he explained, adding that was the way state regulations are written.

Poister said crews are using conductivity tests to determine when to stop digging at the Jon Day impoundment at Amwell Township, where 10,000 tons of contaminated soil have already been excavated and hauled away from the former frack pit. At least 5,000 more tons will likely need to be removed, he said.

No deadline has been set for Range to complete the soil removal and conduct additional testing.

“This is not something that you do overnight,” he said about the cleanup effort.

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

 

 

 

 

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DEP: Additional Chemicals “Associated with Drilling” Found in Contaminated Soil at Range Resources Impoundment

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A Department on Environmental Protection spokesman on Thursday confirmed that “other chemicals associated with drilling” have been found in the contaminated soil being hauled from the Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County – the site of a “significant” leak earlier this year.

The spokesman, John Poister, said a “wider array” of tests showed the other chemicals, while initial testing showed only chlorides, which he indicated was a “marker” for contamination.

The exact chemicals found in the soil were not immediately disclosed.

DEP is seeking further information from Range Resources, Poister said.

 

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DEP Issues Notices of Violation to Range Resources Over Washington County Methane Leak

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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday issued notices of violation to Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources over a methane leak last month at a gas well in Washington County.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the “equipment failure” May 14 at the Herman Pad in Mt. Pleasant Township that spurred a precautionary evacuation of a few dozen residents resulted in the company being issued Thursday with an NOV for failure to operate a well according to regulations, and for hazardous release of a gas into the air.

He said DEP is requiring Range Resources to provide it with a full explanation of what caused the equipment failure, as well as its plan to correct the problem. Additionally, Poister said DEP is requiring the company to provide it with information about the future of the well, which he said was not operational at the time of the leak.

That information is due back to DEP by July 11, he said.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking further information on the matter.

 

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Why Did Two Top Range Resources Executives Dump More Than Half Their Company Stock?

Ray Walker Jr.

Photo courtesy of Range Resources site

Photo courtesy of Range Resources site

Two of Range Resources’ top executives have sold more than half of the stock they owned in the corporation earlier this month, the Mideast Times has reported.

The executive, Chief Operating Officer Ray Walker Jr., sold 17,322 shares for more than $1.5 million. Walker still owns 15,975 shares of the company’s stock, valued at more than $1.4 million, according to the report.

On the same day, Range Resources Vice President David P. Poole sold 13,864 shares of the company’s stock for just more than $1.2 million, according to the news organization.

Following that sale, Poole now directly owns 8,796 shares in the company, valued at approximately $773,608.

The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link.

Editor’s Note: Thoughts on the stock sale? Could it have anything to do with all the high-profile litigation in which the company is embroiled? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. -amanda

 

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Obit: Daisytown Farmer Terry Greenwood, Whose Well Water Was Polluted by Dominion Energy, Dead at 66

Terry L. “Crow” Greenwood, a Washington County man who made headlines in 2008 after the Department of Environmental Protection forced Dominion Energy to supply his family with drinking water after Marcellus Shale drilling activities near his Daisytown farm polluted his water well supply, died Sunday after a three-month battle with cancerous brain tumors.

He was 66.

Born in McKeesport on October 26, 1947, he was the son of the late Harold and Eleanor (Kles) Greenwood.

“Crow” was a retired truck driver from Supervalu in Belle Vernon and also enjoyed farming. He was a member of the Harry Enstrom Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and the St. Dominic’s Social Club in Donora.  His interests were many and included riding his motorcycle, going to auctions, and he was especially interested in protecting our environment.

His motto was, “Water is more important than gas.”

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Kathryn (Yanachik) Greenwood and their children, Terence Greenwood of Daisytown, Todd (Amy) Greenwood of Charleroi and Tracy Greenwood of Bentleyville; his son, Jeffrey (Tina) Greenwood of Cincinnati, Ohio;  two grandchildren, Cassidy & Eric Greenwood; 2=two brothers, Dennis (Cindi) Greenwood of RuffsDale and Randy (Jo) Greenwood of Rostraver Township; two nieces; a dear cousin, Gaylen Spinnenweber; and his best friend, Barry “Sunday” Nartowicz.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two nephews, Tim Greenwood and Allan Greenwood.

Friends will be received 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the James C. Stump Funeral Home Inc., 580 Circle Drive, Belle Vernon/Rostraver Township where a Blessing service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday with Msgr. Roger Statnik officiating.  Interment will follow in Monongahela Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one’s choice. To leave online condolences or for more information on services, click here.

On Jan. 28, 2008 Green wood told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that “the water from the water well supply turned cloudy and discolored and contained sediment,” according to DEP documents. He asked the department to investigate.

The surface of the a nearby Dominion Energy gas well was about 400 feet away from the Grenwood family’s well water. And while pre-drilling tests showed iron and magnesium in acceptable levels, a post-drilling test indicate the level of those chemicals in the Greenwood’s water exceeded drinking water standards.

“The water…continues to be cloudy and discolored and cannot be used for the drinking and cooking purposes served by the well water supply.”

 

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15,000 Tons of Contaminated Soil Likely to be Hauled from Range Resources Frack Pit, Groundwater Likely Effected

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(This photo of the John Day impoundment was taken in May by Robert Donnan, who graciously allowed me to use it.)

The amount of contaminated soil that will need to be removed from a Washington County centralized impoundment operated by Range Resources will be “even more” than the state Department of Environmental Protection had previously estimated, a spokesman confirmed Monday.

While DEP spokesman John Poister last month told the Observer-Reporter that as many as 10,000 tons would need to be excavated and hauled out of the Amwell Township site and into area landfills, on Monday he said it could actually be as much as 15,000 tons.

And Poister also confirmed that the “major leak” there has had some effect on the groundwater.

He said one ground well monitor showed chloride in the water there, Poister said.

DEP is still investigating, and said an inspector has been on scene at the impoundment almost every other day.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Range Resources, and Poister said additional citations related to the leak are likely. A civil penalty may also be assessed, he said.

Centralized impoundments are used to store millions of gallons of water used during the hydraulic fracturing process.

Range Resources impoundments in Washington County have been the subject of both controversy and national headlines this past year – mostly over questions about what exactly is in the water stored at the sites.

State Impact reported that company executives testified in a civil court case that they do not know what chemicals they are using in the fracking process.

Critics have long maintained that impoundments, sometimes called frack pits, are not an industry best practice, and have pushed for safer storage methods, such as closed-loop systems.

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

Here is a Google Earth image of the John Day impoundment in relation to a local elementary school.

Here is a Google Earth image of the John Day impoundment in relation to a local elementary school.

 

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