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DEP Orders Range Resources To Address Methane Leaking Into The Air, 12 Water Wells, Groundwater From A Marcellus Gas Well In Lycoming County Since 2013

On January 13, the Department of Environmental Protection ordered Range Resources- Appalachia, LLC o address its gas well in Moreland Township, Lycoming County, which has caused methane to escape and pollute groundwater and multiple surface waters.

“We have attempted to resolve this in good faith but after numerous attempts, the operator still has not completely addressed these violations,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We expect companies to abide by our environmental laws and regulations and they must be held accountable if their work results in violations that negatively impact our environment. Range Resources’ refusal at times to accept responsibility and finally address this problem is unacceptable and that is why DEP is issuing this order.”

Drilling of the well took place in February and March of 2011, and completion occurred in June 2011. During an inspection in early 2012, DEP discovered the presence of methane and pressure in the well due to defective cement.

DEP also received complaints of discolored water in nearby groundwater-fed private wells. Range Resources offered corrective action at DEP’s request, but DEP determined the plan was inadequate.

In September 2013, DEP issued a Notice of Violation to Range Resources for the leaking gas well, but the operator refused to accept responsibility and correct the defective cement that allowed gas flow into the private water wells and nearby streams.

DEP continued to identify private water wells near the gas well that contained elevated levels of dissolved methane and Range Resources eventually installed treatment systems on 11 identified impacted water supplies.

On May 11, 2015, DEP issued an administrative order requiring Range Resources to take certain corrective actions regarding the gas well. However, DEP found the company’s remedial plan insufficient to prevent further leaks and pollution.

In a June 2015 letter, DEP notified Range Resources of its intent to assess a civil penalty. The operator appealed the letter before the Environmental Hearing Board, but also submitted a remedial plan to DEP’s satisfaction, so DEP did not assess the penalty.

However, Range Resources’ remedial actions since 2015 have failed to eliminate the impacts of methane from the gas well on the fresh groundwater and nearby streams.

While attempting to re-enter the well bore in late 2016, the operator mistakenly drilled outside the casing of the gas well, leaving an open bore hole near the gas well.

The January 13 order requires Range Resources to address both the gas well and open bore hole.

“We have been working with Range Resources but have been met with sporadic cooperation, which will no longer be tolerated,” McDonnell said. “Through a rigorous investigation, DEP has determined that Range Resources is responsible for the leak and must take corrective actions as outlined in this order, which seeks to resolve this environmental issue once and for all.”

Failure to comply with the order could result in additional enforcement actions.

Click Here for a copy of the order.

Media questions should be directed to Elizabeth Rementer, DEP Press Secretary, by calling 717-787-1323 or send email to: erementer@pa.gov.

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[Posted: January 13, 2020]


1/20/2020

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