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Company cited after fracturing fluid spill at Beaver Run Reservoir

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has cited Consol Energy's CNX Gas after a spill of fracturing fluid at Beaver Run Reservoir in June.

Officials at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County said no contamination occurred from the June 1 incident at the Kuhn 3D pad in Bell Township.

According to a statement on the authority website, CNX was “fracturing” a well when a leak occurred at a plumbing union. While workers were repairing the leak, at least 100 gallons of processed fracking water flowed into the soil.

The reservoir is the source of drinking water for 150,000 people, including those in Murrysville, Export and Delmont.

Soil in the affected area was excavated, and chloride levels in the soil and water were tested. Fracking resumed on June 3, Consol Energy spokeswoman Lynn Seay said, and tests showed that all the problems were remedied by June 4.

DEP cited CNX for failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth; stream discharge of IW, including drill cuttings, oil, brine and/or silt; and pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances. DEP has not determined a fine or penalty for CNX. The company has set in place additional controls at the site since the incident, Seay said.

“Sediment- and erosion-control devices are built into Consol Energy's operational plans. Consol Energy has implemented additional engineering controls to provide a redundant review of site design specifications and post-construction functionality for each pad,” Seay said in an email.

That wasn't the only incident at the reservoir that month. On June 13, a storm caused a containment dike around the Mamont 1 drilling pad to overflow muddy water down a hill towards the reservoir. The dike, which is designed to hold rainwater and release it slowly in the environment, was repaired the same day. DEP is not citing the driller for the incident.

The incidents have Murrysville Councilman Dave Perry scratching his head.

“The two incidents are relatively minor, but CNX needs to re-evaluate their spill-control policy,” said Perry, an environmental geologist. “Sure, there was no impact, but two uncontrolled releases in two weeks indicates that their spill-control procedures are inadequate.”

Last July, CNX was cited after liquid cement leaked into a creek that empties into the reservoir at the Kuhns 3B well pad. That was the first violation incurred by the company at the reservoir. Drilling has taken place at the reservoir since 2010.

Consol Energy has 36 horizontal Marcellus wells located on five pads and five vertically drilling wells on one pad at Beaver Run Reservoir, Seay said. The company plans to drill on another pad in 2014.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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