Williamsport, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it has finalized a $472,317 civil penalty with JKLM Energy LLC of Sewickley, Allegheny County, for groundwater contamination caused by the use of an unapproved surfactant during the drilling of a natural gas well. The contamination impacted six private drinking water wells in Sweden and Eulalia townships, Potter County, in September 2015.
“This was a serious incident that may have been prevented if JKLM had used better judgement at the time,” DEP Director of Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said. “The department is satisfied with the company’s cooperation in remediating the contamination, and ensuring that the affected families will have safe drinking water now and in the future.”
In addition to the payment of that civil penalty, JKLM has agreed to provide $100,000 for a Community Environmental Project, which will be conducted by the local Triple Divide Watershed Coalition. The money will be used to purchase and install continuous conductivity monitors for eleven public water supplies in Potter County. The project will be jointly supervised by the watershed coalition and the Potter County Planning Commission, and be administered through the county’s treasurer’s office.
The incident occurred in mid-September 2015 when JKLM began drilling the Reese Hollow 118 2HU natural gas well and the drill bit became stuck in the well bore approximately 570 feet below the ground surface.
During the next several days, JKLM introduced an estimated 100 gallons of an unapproved drilling surfactant called F-485 into the well bore hole to assist with the drill bit recovery operation. The surfactant, which had been diluted with fresh water, eventually migrated into the groundwater via subsurface fractures.
There were 17 private water supply complaints received by DEP, with six of those found to have been impacted by the release. JKLM provided alternate private water sources in response to the initial incident, and has since installed treatment systems on all of the affected private water supplies.
Four public water supply wells operated by the Coudersport Borough Water Authority and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital were sampled and monitored. Although they were all temporarily taken off-line as a precautionary measure, none appear to have been impacted.
Since late October 2015, JKLM has:
• Installed four groundwater monitoring wells;
• Plugged the three gas wells at the site;
• Installed treatment systems on the impacted private water wells;
• Continued to monitor the affected private water wells and the monitoring wells;
• Returned the three Reese Hollow well permits to DEP; and
• Agreed not to apply for any new well permits or drill new wells on the site
The penalty addresses violations of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act, the PA Clean Streams Law and DEP’s Chapter 78 oil and gas regulations.