Electronic Field Guide » Pre-Development Issues » Spills and Accidents

Prepared by Patrick Drohan (Ecosystem Science and Management)

Accidents resulting in spills of various chemicals and fluids have occurred during development of Marcellus shale natural gas sites in Pennsylvania. These have ranged from road accidents involving trucks carrying drilling wastewater to spills of hydrofracturing chemical additives and diesel fuel on drill pads. Several wells have blown out, spilling brine and hydrofracturing fluids onto the surface. Gas companies have also been cited for failure to minimize erosion and to implement and maintain erosion and sedimentation controls.
To protect against accidents in which spilled fluids could reach waterways, all streams and other water bodies, including ephemeral ponds and seeps and springs, should be protected as outlined in DEP’s Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Manual.

During site planning is an ideal time to work with the gas company to minimize the risk to surface waters near your property.  As a landowner, you may have greater knowledge of the surface waters and wet areas around your property. 

Think about:

  • vehicle traffic patterns during various phases of construction and their effect on the land under different climate conditions (wet, dry, dusty, etc.)
  • entrance and exit points to the site in relation to water holding ponds, flowback ponds, topsoil piles, etc.
  • crossings over Exceptional Value waterways
  • access areas to fishing spots and how these might change during or following development. Being proactive can help minimize potential problems later.