Tag Archives: Department of Environemental Protection

DEP Issues Notice of Violation to Range Resources for Leaking Cecil Township Impoundment

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The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of violation to Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources for groundwater contamination at the former Worstell centralized waste water impoundment in Cecil Township.

News of the NOV was given to Cecil Township officials at a private meeting with DEP Monday night, board Chairman Andy Schrader said Tuesday morning.

Schrader said the NOV was issued to Range Resources because liquid from the frack pit, now known as Cecil 23 Impoundment, “escaped containment.”

“Since the DEP issued the notice of violation, this confirmed that the Cecil Township 23 is leaking. For the safety of our residents this was the township’s concern from the beginning,” Schrader.

He said DEP will arrange for further testing to be done at the site to determine the extent of the soil and water contamination.

Three officials from DEP met with all five Cecil supervisors and township Manager Don Gennusso at the municipal building for about two hours Monday to discuss ongoing concerns over possible groundwater contamination stemming from what is now confirmed to have been a leak.

The Monday meeting was requested by township officials after news that, on July 11 Range Resources notified the DEP that there were elevated chloride levels detected by the ground water monitoring wells at the Cecil 23 waste water impoundment.

“Range has until September 24 to respond.  It is our expectation that Range would perform a full characterization of the extent of the plume of contamination and to implement an appropriate remedial response to address the release,” DEP spokesman John Poister said in an email. “Still to be determined would be any civil penalty for Range.”

In response to repeated inquiries by Cecil Township officials, the DEP said last month that it would conduct a limited investigation. Cecil officials in turn sent letters to about 50 nearby residents letting them know about the potential for groundwater contamination.

The Worstell impoundment made headlines in 2013, when Cecil Township supervisors sought to meet publicly with DEP regarding concerns over the frack pit.

DEP refused to meet in public, and documents obtained through a state Right to Know request showed high-ranking officials making a joke about using a provision in the open records law to keep the gathering in private.

News of possible groundwater and soil contamination at the Cecil 23 Impoundment comes in the wake of a “significant” leak at another Range Resources impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County. That leak necessitated the removal of at least 15,000 tons of soil. DEP issued notices of violation for the leak.

A third frack pit in Amwell run by Range Resources known as the Yeager impoundment – which was the subject of lawsuits and a federal probe – is reportedly in the process of being closed.

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

Editor’s Note: It should be acknowledged that the former Worstell impoundment was the subject of industry PR spin. Check out this story and feel free to leave a comment asking for a correction.

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MarkWest Mum on Flames from Compressor Station (And Why It Requested Power There Be Shut Off)

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Residents who live near a MarkWest compressor station in Chartiers Township, Washington County, reported seeing flames from the facility early Friday morning, but while more than 12 hours has elapsed since the first sighting, the midstream Marcellus Shale company has stayed mum on the cause.

I’m not seeing any statement/story in any of the local media sources.

However, state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, posted twice about the flames on his Facebook page Friday, posting video and pictures from those who live nearby.

What he found interesting? Here’s an excerpt from one of the legislator’s status updates:

After the noise was heard around 4 AM, MarkWest called the county 911 dispatcher and said they were flaring- after it had already started.

When asked by the press, a DEP spokesman also said it was just flaring. But what neither MarkWest or the DEP told anyone was that MarkWest had called West Penn Power and told them to shut off the power coming into the processing facility for reasons unknown; this was confirmed to me personally by West Penn. The power is still off, and the flaring is still going on; this picture was sent to me moments ago.

White then asked, “Does it seem odd to anyone else that they would need to have the power shut off for over 12 hours now if it was just a ‘typical 4 AM flaring?’ And why didn’t MarkWest or DEP say anything about the power needing to be shut off?”

As a reporter whose covered this company for years?

What seems oddest to me is the crickets chirping over there at MarkWest.

Last summer, I broke a story about plumes of thick, black smoke billowing from the compressor station that could be seen from miles and miles away.

When I called MarkWest then, spokesman Robert McHale took my phone call and then followed up with an emailed statement from the company explaining the incident and reiterating that the public was never at risk. The DEP also issued a statement indicating that an inspector was on scene and that the department was looking into the matter.

This evening, in an attempt to get a better understanding of what is going on at the site, I called McHale and left a message. I also emailed Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, who was able to provide information related to the smoke when I was unable to immediately get the info from MarkWest.

Neither the after-hours phone call nor the email was immediately returned.

Because while I have many questions, the one I keep asking myself is this: If there is nothing wrong, and considering this plant has been in the media spotlight for unflattering reasons previously, why hasn’t a statement been issued?

Editor’s Note: If you have photos or video of the “flare” or have any other info, please feel free to email me at marcellusmonitor_editor@yahoo.com. Also: If you’re on Facebook, get our updates in your news feed by “liking” us. Click here to access the page.

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