January 15, 2020
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is ordering Range Resources to fix a problem Marcellus Shale well “once and for all.”
The DEP has ordered Ft. Worth-based Range to formulate and implement a plan to sop gas from migrating from the Harman Lewis 1H well and to remove pressure from gas that’s been building up at its base.
DEP inspectors say they believed the Central PA well has flaws back in 2012, later finding that the well had caused methane gas to travel into 11 drinking water supplies, nearby streams and a farm field pocked with spots of dead grass, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Range has told the DEP it’s confident the well is not the source of methane in the area’s groundwater, with the likely cause being nearby natural gas-bearing rock layers near the surface.
DEP and Range attempted in 2016 to bring the matter to a close by accessing a patched section of the well’s protective casing and eventually drilled along the outside of the well.
Range spokesman Mark Windle told the newspaper, “We strongly disagree with the DEP’s order issued today that the Harman Lewis well impacted local water supplies.
“We have worked tirelessly to fully cooperate with both regulators and nearby residents for years despite extensive third-party studies and analysis that determined the methane in the groundwater is naturally occurring.”
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell countered that his agency’s efforts to clean up the area of the well have “been met with sporadic cooperation” from Range, “which will no longer be tolerated.”
DEP has said if Range fails to take samples of the affected water supplies to confirm that stresses areas of the well have been safely replaced and take care of any cost increases, the company will face regulatory “enforcement actions.”