This August, Riverkeeper will release an updated version of Fractured Communities, available here. Fractured Communities describes hundreds of case studies demonstrating that industrial gas drilling, including horizontal drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, results in significant adverse environmental impacts. We will be posting sneak peeks of the profiled case studies throughout the summer, the first of which is below:
Fracking Blowout Mirrors the BP Gulf Oil Spill
On April 19, 2011, less than one year after the BP Gulf oil spill, a catastrophic blowout of a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well in Leroy, Pennsylvania, resulted in a release of thousands of gallons of hydrofracking fluid, much of which spilled into the nearby Towanda Creek. According to state officials the spill occurred as Chesapeake was “in the middle of a ‘frack job’” and is believed to be a result of a failure of the well’s blowout protector, which employs a similar technology to the blowout preventer that failed during the BP Gulf oil spill. The potential for significant surface water contamination has led Pennsylvania state officials to notify local farmers to prevent their cows from drinking the affected water. The spill forced seven families to evacuate their homes.
The Towanda Creek, a popular trout fishing stream, is a tributary of Susquehanna River, which flows into Maryland. The Susquehanna supplies drinking water for over 6.2 million people and habitat for the American Shad and Striped bass. On May 2, 2011, the Maryland Attorney General informed Chesapeake that the state intended to sue the company for the blowout.