Beaver Run water untainted by shale gas wells, tests show
Three years of testing at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's Beaver Run Reservoir has found drinking water untainted by Marcellus shale gas wells, drilled just yards from the water supply.
Testing will continue for a fourth year under a new contract with Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The school will be paid $75,000 this year for students and faculty members to inspect the 11-billion-gallon reservoir and surrounding property in northern Westmoreland County.
“So far, there hasn't been any real changes,” said Nathan McElroy, associate professor of chemistry at IUP and co-chairman of the Beaver Run project.
“We've found a few seasonal things, but nothing linked to drilling. The quality of the reservoir is pretty much the same quality of water throughout Pennsylvania,” McElroy said.
Beaver Run Reservoir provides water to more than half of the authority's customers — more than 120,000 homes and businesses in five counties.
IUP, through its Energy Sustainability Initiative, has tested the reservoir since 2011 and posted its findings on a public website.
The authority has leased property to Consol Energy on the 1,300-acre reservoir site in Salem, Bell and Washington townships.
So far, 37 deep gas wells have been drilled, with several located just a stone's throw from the water supply.
Jack Ashton, assistant manager for the municipal authority, said IUP's testing shows that the gas wells have not endangered the water supply.
Initially, the tests focused on streams and tributaries to the reservoir. This year they have expanded to water and air quality at the drilling sites.
“They've brought some ideas to the table we've been able to implement,” Ashton said.
IUP's results are posted on the school's website. The authority's website has a link to IUP's findings.
Those results detail technical measurements and chemical analyses of samples taken during inspections.
McElroy said that will change this year when the project's website is upgraded to put the results in perspective for laypeople.
“We want to make sure the public can understand,” McElroy said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection cited Consol Energy's CNX Gas after a spill of fracturing fluid at Kuhn 3D pad in Bell Township on June 1, 2013. It was contained to soil, which was excavated, the company said.
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.
In July 2012, CNX Gas was cited by the DEP because liquid cement leaked into a creek that empties into the reservoir at the Kuhn 3B well pad.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Donegal Township families fight driller to get clean water
- Latrobe school directors won’t forgive bill for WCCC land
- Police: Penn Township man was ‘lonely,’ so he called 911
- Ex-assistant at Penn-Trafford pleads guilty to sending inappropriate texts
- Land bank will handle Monsour deal
- Bicyclist injured in collision with construction vehicle
- Greensburg will provide interpreter for soccer program
- Mt. Pleasant hospital sets ‘exceptional’ example
- Walker: Scottdale Fall Festival kicks off this weekend
- Derry planning commission member joins council
- Ligonier Township man jailed in alleged assault of police chief