Pollutants in Indian Run Lead to DEP Shutdown of Well

by Dee Fulton on March 28, 2011

The WVDEP Office of Oil and Gas issued cease operations orders to Antero Resources Appalachian Corp. and Bronco Drilling on Monday, March 21st, the same day that a citizen complaint was turned in.  WVDEP inspectors documented that drilling “mud” had flowed into Indian Creek in Harrison County.  The source of the contamination was a spill of the drilling fluid at the  Antero O. Rice well pad adjacent to Indian Run.  Bronco Drilling was the operator of the drill rig on the pad.

Drilling mud is a fluid used in the drilling process to keep the drill bit cooled, seal off corrosive salty water in the shale from the borehole, and assist in removing drill cuttings.  Diesel based mud has been a favorite of industry but it is unknown what type of mud was used by Bronco at the time of this writing.

Because Bronco allowed pollutants to flow into the stream, Bronco’s operations in West Virginia were ordered to be halted until the company developed a spill prevention plan for all state activities.  Per Kathy Cosco, WVDEP spokesperson, on Thursday the company was allowed to resume operations after producing a spill plan, making corrections at other drilling sites, and agreeing to pay a $15,000 civil administrative penalty.

Antero was ordered to cease operations at the O. Rice well pad but the company had already finished drilling and was breaking down the drill rig.  Antero must submit proposals for soil sampling and remediation, surface water sampling and removal of any pollutants found, and testing and monitoring of all water wells within a 2,000-foot radius of the well pad or testing for groundwater contamination if no water wells exist within the prescribed parameter.

The site of the spill from the O. Rice pad is about 3 miles north of Salem, WV.  Salem’s Public Works Director, Ronnie Davis, assured water customers that Salem does not use water from Indian Run.  Indian Run flows northeast and joins 10 Mile Creek.

Click here for the full Clarksburg Exponent Telegram story, March 27.   There is no fee for visiting this newspaper site but there is a brief online registration form which must be completed to access news content.

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