Pa. Has Toughest Rules on Spilling
Safety issues considered at oil & gas conference
9 April 2014
By Ian Hicks, Staff Writer
WHEELING - When it comes to containing spills at natural gas
drilling operations, Pennsylvania requires much more of companies
operating within its borders than its neighbors in West Virginia
The topic of spill containment has drawn much attention since the
Jan. 9 Freedom Industries chemical leak that contaminated the
water of more than 300,000 Charleston-area residents, leading to a
new state law requiring more frequent inspections of such tanks.
Locally, a proposal by GreenHunter Water to build a recycling
facility along the Ohio River in the Warwood area of Wheeling for
water used in hydraulic fracturing has many residents concerned
about what would happen should a spill occur.
Spills - and what companies must do to prevent them from impacting
waterways when they occur - was the topic of a presentation
Tuesday by Beth Powell of New Pig Energy, a Tipton, Pa., company
that provides liners and other spill containment systems for the
oil and gas industry, during the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas
Association's inaugural ShaleSafe Conference at Oglebay Park in
While regulations in West Virginia and Ohio focus more on
containment of fuel and other oil-based substances, Powell said
the Keystone State took things a step further in 2012 by also
requiring spill containment systems wherever there is flowback -
also called produced water - from natural gas wells that may also
contain sand and other chemicals used in the fracking process.
"Pennsylvania is the first state that has containment regulations
on the water side for flowback," Powell said.
And in addition to well sites, Pennsylvania law is more stringent
when it comes to spill control around storage tanks. Pennsylvania
requires containment systems able to handle 110 percent of the
volume of the largest tank on site, while West Virginia and Ohio
law requires just 100 percent, with some additional consideration
While spill containment is important in all cases, Powell said, it
is particularly so when diesel fuel is involved - which she said
can be dangerous and costly to clean up when it comes in contact
with the ground.
"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars," she said.