Fracking spill due to contractor error, cleanup now underway

SETH NOLAN/Sun-Gazette
Authorities said Tuesday a gas pad spilled flowback fluid into the above creek.

SETH NOLAN/Sun-Gazette Authorities said Tuesday a gas pad spilled flowback fluid into the above creek.

The investigation into the accidental spill of fracking fluid into a tributary of Loyalsock Creek continued with state agency and non-profit involvement Wednesday.

Inflection Energy LLC, the natural gas company on Yeagle Road, confirmed Wednesday that a contractor on its well pad in Eldred Township notified the company of the incident at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

The spilling of treated and filtered brine water into a small tributary of Loyalsock Creek was the result of a contractor error as it was being transferred, a spokesperson for the company said Wednesday. The transferring process is a part of Inflection’s water recycling practice.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday that the amount of the spill was about 63,000 gallons. Inflection said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by company officials determined that number to be approximately 1,500 to 1,700 barrels — which would translate to 63,000 to 71,400 gallons.

According to the information Inflection released, DEP was notified about the incident immediately.

“After (initial) investigation, it was determined that only a portion of the treated and filtered brine water migrated beyond the pad’s limits,” Inflection said. “Remediation efforts began immediately.”

Inflection began site cleanup and is continuing to test nearby soil and water for traces of the spill, said Marci Cyone, director of land for Inflection.

“We’ve also dammed off the stream near the site and used a bypass in that area to make sure the stream was still able to flow,” Cyone said. “But we’ve diverted it from the area that was potentially affected.”

Cyone said the company began removing contaminated soil, but was unable to say how much.

Inflection has since been working closely with DEP, the state Fish and Boat Commission and an environmental firm to oversee that work.

“Company officials have deployed resources to contain and remediate any treated and filtered brine water that has migrated off the well pad toward a nearby unnamed tributary that feeds into the Loyalsock Creek,” according to the release.

None of the spilled water has been detected in Loyalsock Creek as of Wednesday, the company said.

Monitoring will continue at that tributary and Loyalsock Creek throughout the investigation.

The spill has stoked a lot of activity from residents in the area as well as non-profit organizations.

Carol Parenzan, a Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, was in the residential area of the tributary as well as the well pad Wednesday.

Although she still is in the very early stages of an investigation, she said she did see the remediation projects underway.

Parenzan also saw members of DEP on site conducting tests. She is not yet aware of any results of those tests.