Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Frack Spill in PA (Woodward Township) Accident

Residents near frac truck crash awaiting tests of well water, soil

February 23, 2011 - From staff reports

SWISSDALE - A cluster of residents near the horseshoe curve along Coudersport Pike in Woodward Township are awaiting the results of tests of their well water and soil following the weekend crash of a tank truck hauling frack water from a natural gas well site. The truck was full of frack water when it tipped over on the curve at Berry Lane and plowed through guardrails, spilling its load and injuring the driver, finally identified Tuesday by township police as Richard Hollabaugh, 41, of Morrisdale.

The truck was heading to another well site in Lycoming County and was hauling what officials called filtered frack or flush water about 10:45 p.m. Friday night. Since then, Berry Lane resident Rebecca Dunlap and her family - among the closest to the spill - are not drinking water from their well.

The crash, the second within nine months at the curve involving a gas industry vehicle, was unnerving. Upon hearing the crash, Rebecca said she ran outside to discover the driver, who was trapped in the truck's cab. "I immediately talked to the driver and he was alert. We're thankful he is fine and has been discharged from the hospital," she said.  "I immediately noted water flowing out of the tank," she recalls, so she asked the driver if it was fresh or frack water, and "he said fresh." "I think that maybe his definition of fresh water is different than mine," she said. "I could smell that it was not fresh water."

Emergency crews responded quickly upon receiving calls to the 9-1-1 center. The driver had to be extricated from the cab and was taken to Lock Haven Hospital for treatment, according to township police investigator Miles Houseknecht.

It was early the next morning when the truck was pulled up from the bottom of the embankment and towed away. After being notified, the response by the state Department of Environmental Protection; the owner of the truck, A&A Construction of Clarence; along with officials from Anadarko Petroleum Corp., whose well the truck was serving, also was very quick, she said.  "My husband called the DEP and they responded immediately and identified it as frack water. He said it was 9 percent, but I don't quite understand what the 9 percent referred to," she explained.

The DEP estimates between 3,400 and 3,600 gallons of frack water leaked from the truck. The spill is within about 200 feet of her well, she estimated. "That's concerning. We had our well water tested last year, almost one year to the date, in fact, so that we have a baseline water quality data," she said.  And while her well is on a slight upslope from the spill, she explained, "hopefully, most people understand that geology doesn't have to follow surface contour." 

"I have to say that I contacted Anadarko myself and they immediately called back, insuring they would look into the situation."

Dunlap subsequently arranged for a neighborhood meeting Saturday afternoon, attended by 10 surrounding property owners, three staff members from Anadarko and three from A&A Construction.  Among those attending were Ralph and Cathy Padilla, who live across Route 664. They also are not drinking water from their well for fear of contamination.  Ralph said the truck knocked down power lines, something he noticed upon running to see if the driver was OK. We cleared everyone out of the area after the driver said he was OK but that he was trapped," Ralph said.  Ralph said he also noticed the water leaking from the tank truck.

A&A hired a consultant, GEF, and a respresentative took samples from water wells, then came back and took soil samples, Rebecca said.  "That's where this stands. We're waiting for preliminary analyses from the samples. They'll tell us what they found and we'll go from there," she said. "In the meantime, we're not drinking the water, of course." The family is buying its water for consumption and "Anadarko told us to keep the receipts."

Dunlap said the test results could be available as early as today. The initial report that the truck did not leak water was a "miscommunication," Rebecca surmised.  "We had a huge snow melt Friday and maybe that's why" it was initially unclear to certain emergency responders whether water from the tri-axle truck spilled from its tank, she thought.

This morning, Anadarko issued the following statement, "The safety and well being of these families is our priority, and we are working with the service provider to take action by providing drinking and cooking water, while water sampling is under way. A&A Construction, Inc. has hired independent experts to conduct the sampling on water wells and soil under the supervision of the Pennsylvania DEP."

It was last June 22 when a Florida man driving a tri-axle flatbed truck and hauling a pickup truck crashed through the same guardrail at the horseshoe curve again, right next to Rebecca's home - after coming from a drill site north of Woodward Township. The driver was trapped in the truck for nearly two hours before being freed from the wreckage and taken to a hospital for treatment. That truck was hauling "drill steel" at the time.

LINK  Drilling Concerns
LINK  to article above

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