Chesapeake Energy is suspending all fracking operations in Pennsylvania after a blowout in a Bradford County well late Tuesday night. According to several reports, thousands of gallons of fracking fluid flowed freely onto nearby farming land and nearby creeks. The blowout occurred almost exactly a year after the BP oil spill.
Brian Grove, the spokesperson for Chesapeake Energy Corp., said that initial testing of area waterways shows, “minimal impact, if any.” Chesapeake, however, has stopped all fracking operations in Pennsylvania until the blowout is resolved. The leak continues to flow, but crews have “significantly reduced the flow of chemical-laced water from its out-of-control,” status.
Chesapeake’s hydraulic fracturing operation is among the largest in the nation. The company’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has not been shy about taking on journalists who are skeptical about the safeness of fracking. “Try not to be the 51st person to write a story about the alleged contamination of somebody’s water well from fracking,” McClendon said when speaking to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. At that conference, McClendon said something he may regret, considering the developments in Pennsylvania. “Do yourself a favor and realize that frack fluid is not coming to the surface in an uncontrolled fashion,” the CEO said.
This blowout adds to a busy week in Pennsylvania. Earlier in the week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, ordered a halt to treating fracking wastewater in public drinking water treatment facilities. Corbett’s decision came after a study revealed that increased amounts of bromide, a harmful chemical found in fracking fluids, were detected in rivers in the state. That news coincided with a separate announcement by the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition saying the group, “now believes natural gas exploration industry is responsible for rising levels of contaminates found in the area drinking water.” Since February, The New York Times’ Ian Urbina has written several reports outlining concerns about the gas industry’s ability to regulate itself and Pennsylvania’s inability to regulate the gas industry.