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Truck crash causes fracking water, diesel spill into Chartiers Creek

Tom Fontaine
| Monday, April 21, 2014, 7:42 a.m.
Crews from Weavertown Environmental work to clean a spill that leaked diesel and fracking water into Chartiers Creek on Route 18 in Canton Township, Washington County, on Monday, April 21, 2014.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Crews from Weavertown Environmental work to clean a spill that leaked diesel and fracking water into Chartiers Creek on Route 18 in Canton Township, Washington County, on Monday, April 21, 2014.

State environmental officials don't believe a tanker spill early Monday in Washington County polluted Chartiers Creek.

Authorities confined almost all of the 1,300 gallons of diesel fuel and 400 gallons of fracking wastewater spilled from a three-tanker crash on Route 18 in Canton to the shoulder of the road and storm sewer, said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister.

“There is no indication of any negative environmental impact,” Poister said, noting authorities spotted no signs such as dead fish or oil sheens on the creek.

Carnegie-based Weavertown Environmental Group put out floating booms to catch any diesel fuel and fracking wastewater that reached the creek. Water samples were sent for testing, Poister said. The DEP intends to remove roadside dirt that soaked up diesel, he said.

A tanker hauling the fuel slammed into two tankers carrying frackwater that were stopped at a red light at Oak Grove Road and North Hewitt Avenue about 3 a.m. All three trucks overturned. That area of Route 18 remained closed until late Monday afternoon.

Coen Zappi Oil & Gas Co. of Washington was shipping the diesel, Poister said.

A company official who would not identify himself declined to comment and referred questions to Washington-based 1923 Transportation, which he said owns and operated the tanker.

No one returned a phone message left for 1923 Transportation.

Somerset-based Highland Environmental LLC did not return calls. It owns the tankers that were carrying the frackwater for Cecil-based Range Resources from one of the energy company's drilling sites to another, Poister said.

Although natural gas drilling activity in Pennsylvania continues to grow, any threat posed by trucks hauling fracking wastewater is declining, Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesman Travis Windle said.

In recent years, drillers such as Range have begun recycling and reusing more than 90 percent of fracking wastewater, often transporting it to and from centrally located impoundments via permanent and temporary water lines, Windle said.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said such efforts resulted in 250,000 fewer truck trips across Pennsylvania in 2012. He could not estimate how many trucks travel that part of Washington County for Range each day.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or Staff writer Jason Cato contributed to this report.

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