Response to Blowout Took 13 Hours Despite PA Plan for Quick Action

"When Chesapeake Energy lost control of a Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania on April 19, an emergency response team from Texas was called in to stop the leak. By the time the team arrived more than 13 hours later, brine water and hydraulic fracturing fluids from the well had spewed across nearby fields and into a creek.

Why did a team have to be called in from Texas, as the Scranton Times Tribune has reported [1]? That's what we're trying to figure out.

According to a plan that Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced in August 2010 [2], a Pennsylvania-based emergency response crew should have been available to handle the blowout. The plan was created after Texas crews had to be called in to deal with two serious gas drilling accidents last summer. The first was a blowout [3] at an EOG Resources well in Clearfield County on June 3 -- it took the Texans 16 hours to arrive at that site. The other was a fire [4] at a Huntley & Huntley well in Allegheny County that killed two workers on July 23 -- the emergency responders showed up 11 hours later that time.

John Hanger, the DEP's former secretary, said at the time that the delay was unacceptable."

Nicholas Kusnetz reports for ProPublica April 26, 2011.


"Pa., Feds Still Seeking Answers on  Marcellus Well Blowout" (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Shale Drilling Faces Crackdown" (Wall St. Journal)

"EPA Examines Well Blowout For Hazardous Substances" (Reuters)

"Fracking Regulations Could Ease Public Concerns: White House" (Reuters)

Source: ProPublica, 04/27/2011