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Fracking Fluid Spill Nets $97,000+ Fine From Pennsylvania Regulators

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Another Pennsylvania Marcellus shale gas driller has come under fire for violating state environmental laws. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Atlas Resources LLC has been fined $97,350 for a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluids into a tributary of a creek called Dunkle Run.

The Atlas Resources incident is just one of many that have been perpetrated by gas drillers performing fracking operations in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale.

According to a report recently released by the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, the state has identified 1,435 violations by 43 Marcellus Shale drilling companies since January 2008. Of those, 952 were identified as having or likely to have an impact on the environment. That figure doesn’t include violations incurred by drilling wastewater haulers. According to the Association, during a 3-day enforcement blitz by the DEP in June 2010, 669 traffic citations and 818 written warnings were issued to trucks hauling Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater.

According to a statement from the Pennsylvania DEP, violations were discovered on Dec. 5 and 6, 2009, at the Cowden 17 gas well on Old Trail Road off Route 844. Once the unknown quantity of fluid overflowed the impoundment’s banks, it ran over the ground and into a tributary of Dunkle Run. An unknown quantity of fluid was involved in the spill.

Dunkle Run is located in Hopewell Township, Washington County, in the southwest part of the state. The DEP statement characterized the area where the spill occurred as a “high-quality” watershed.

Atlas corrected the problem once it was discovered, but failed to report it to DEP, the statement said. This spill violated Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act and Solid Waste Management Act, as well as the state’s Clean Streams Law, the DEP said.

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