Abandoned Mine Blowout Nearly Contained Along Mon River

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
1 February 2017
By Scott Beveridge

MONONGAHELA – An abandoned mine blowout that stained part of the Monongahela River orange has been brought under control by a Marcellus Shale natural gas operation that caused the breach Saturday, a company spokeswoman said.

EQT of Pittsburgh spokeswoman Natalie Cox said it hired a specialty service provider to deal with the large leak along Route 136 in Forward Township, Allegheny County.
“The majority of it has been controlled,” Cox said Wednesday. “We have made tremendous progress.”

An EQT contractor, Keystone Clearwater Solutions of Mars, caused the leak while it was drilling under Route 136 for a fresh-water pipeline to draw river water to use in EQT’s drilling operations and drilled into an abandoned mine, Cox said.

The breach caused the mine water to flow into a tributary to the Monongahela River and create a large trail of orange water along the eastern banks of the river. The mine water contains iron, aluminum and manganese, which turn orange when met with oxygen.

Lauren Fraley, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection in Pittsburgh, said steps had been taken to “stop the primary flow of mine drainage.”
“As originally designed, a secondary flow of less-concentrated water continues to empty into a drainage area to relieve water pressure on the hillside below the abandoned mine,” Fraley said.

The pollution wasn’t expected to cause problems with public water sources that draw their supplies from the river, the DEP has said.

Cox said EQT’s priority is getting everything cleaned up while working on solutions with the DEP and its Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

An investigation was underway to determine the owner of the mine when it was abandoned, Cox added.