DEP Issues Violation Notice to Cabot Oil and Gas

Company Must Properly Clean Up Susquehanna County Gel Spill

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - Dept. of Environmental Protection - News Release
23 September 2009

WILLIAMSPORT – The Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of violation to Cabot Oil and Gas for two liquid gel spills last week at the company’s Heitsman natural gas well pad in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, which polluted a wetland and caused a fish kill in Stevens Creek.

“DEP is very concerned about spills at Cabot sites and will require Cabot to take all necessary actions to prevent them from recurring,” DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell said.

The notice of violation cites Cabot for an unpermitted discharge of polluting substances, an unpermitted discharge of residual waste, two unpermitted encroachments on Stevens Creek, not containing polluting substances at the well site, and an unpermitted discharge of industrial waste.

These were violations of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act, the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and the Oil and Gas Act.

Cabot must provide a written response within 10 days explaining any additional steps that will be taken to correct the violations, and what steps are being taken to prevent their recurrence.

DEP may assess a civil penalty for the violations once the cleanup is finished.

The two spills last week totaled about 8,000 gallons and involved a liquid gel called LGC-35, which is mixed with water and serves as a lubricant in the well fracking process. About 4.9 gallons of LGC-35 are mixed with each 1,000 gallons of water. Cabot informed DEP that failed pipe connections caused both spills.

The wetland was flushed with water late last week to remove the gel, and the mixture was then pumped to on-site storage tanks. No remediation was required in Stevens Creek. Some soil excavation may be required, depending upon sample results.

Cabot reported a third spill to DEP at the same site on Sept. 22 when a closed valve caused an increase in pressure and a hose ruptured. About 420 gallons of the same gel/water mixture spilled, with all but 10 gallons recovered from a catch basin. The remaining fluid is being cleaned up by Cabot contractors.

DEP's investigation is continuing and additional actions are being evaluated.