PA-DEP Says the Loyalsock Creek Being Polluted by Water Withdrawls & Pipelining

by Duane Nichols on September 15, 2022

Loyalsock Creek near Montoursville in NE Pennsylvania

PA-DEP: Marcellus Shale company polluted Loyalsock Creek

From an Article of Mark Maroney, Williamsport Sun Gazette, September 14, 2022

Sediment leaves a Pennsylvania General Energy Co. dewatering structure into the Loyalsock Creek. This discharge is in violation of the Clean Streams Law, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. The Loyalsock Creek north of Montoursville has a plume of sediment pollution in it, the result of a company that is withdrawing water for Marcellus Shale-related activities.

The state Department of Environmental Protection places blame on Pennsylvania General Energy Co., of Warren. PA-DEP notices of violation of the Clean Streams Law have been issued, said Megan Lehman, a department spokeswoman for the North Central region. This is a permitted site 8 miles north of Montoursville, associated with the installation of a natural gas pipeline, a freshwater pipeline and a freshwater withdrawal for Marcellus Shale-related activities.

During a routine inspection on Aug. 24, PA-DEP personnel observed multiple violations of the Clean Streams Law at the site, including an unacceptable discharge of sediment into the creek, Lehman said. Since then, PA-DEP has conducted multiple additional onsite inspections and has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the permittee regarding steps to address the issues at the site and with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which is also investigating.

For example, the department has since recommended moving the water filter bags to a more vegetated area or adding an impermeable layer under the water filter bags to prevent picking up additional sediment in the discharge. Moreover, the department recommended adding additional compost filter socks to the back channel, where the dewatering area is flowing to slow the flow of water through the back channel to allow sediment to fall out.

“We’re very aware of the incident that occurred,” said Anthony Quarrancino, a captain with the Fish and Boat Commission in Bellefonte. “We had a waterways conservation officer that responded to it after the fact, after [we were] notified about it and we’re currently investigating it.”

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources declared the ‘Sock as the 2018 Pennsylvania River of the Year and called it a “timeless treasure.” Also, “All these kinds of things that will be factored in when they’re looking into it. But again, that’s where we’re at right now. It’s just under investigation to find out exactly what went wrong to cause that incident.”

In addition to the creek’s designation, the PA-DEP classifies the creek as an exceptional value stream. It is a home to the eastern hellbender, the state amphibian, which must live in clean water to thrive.

Pennsylvania General Energy has started construction of a high-pressure natural gas gathering line that will cross under the creek and connect two parcels of State Forest land the company leased from DCNR to develop up to 80 additional shale gas wells in the Loyalsock Valley region.

The project involves the construction of a total of 2.5 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines up steep slopes on both sides of the Loyalsock Creek and the aboveground placement of freshwater pipelines up those same slopes. PGE’s site prep work on the banks of the Loyalsock Creek includes clear-cutting trees from a work area along Route 87 in Gamble Township and the construction of a coffer dam in the Creek. Like most oil and gas industry pipeline projects and drilling/fracking operations, the PGE Loyalsock/Shawnee project has crews from out-of-state working on the project — in this case, from Texas.

“They may not be as familiar with Pennsylvania’s environmental regulations and requirements, know local stream conditions, the impacts of rainfall on steeper terrain or construction methods that would avoid serious erosion and sedimentation problems causing discharges into the Loyalsock,” said Barb Jarmoska, of the Friends of the ‘Sock, an organization that has as its mission to protect the Loyalsock Creek and Valley and promote environmentally sustainable alternatives to shale gas and other development.

The Loyalsock Creek is classified by PA-DEP as an Exceptional Value stream whose water quality must be protected by law, with no degradation.

>>> Complaints may be filed over the phone at 570-327-3636 or through a web form at:

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