Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gas Drilling Gets High Grade For Managing Rains & Floods

The floods and massive rains hit parts of Pennsylvania where shale gas drilling is being done and were an unprecedented test of the gas industry's operations and strength of rules to protect the environment during extraordinary circumstances and stresses.

How did the industry do in protecting the environment during the floods and rains? Now one week later it would seem that the gas industry deserves a high grade for operating in a manner that prevented any significant pollution.  The same cannot be said for sewer operations in many parts of the state that were overwhelmed and sent large volumes of contaminated raw sewage into rivers and streams.

Don Gilliland writes an article in today's Patriot-News  ( that reviews information from industry, industry opponents, and regulators and reports that no major pollution incident has been attributed to gas drilling. 

At one point, according to Gilliland, PennEnvironment put a photo of a drilling rig under water on its website with the message: "Here's more evidence Marcellus Shale drilling pads should NOT be allowed in floodplains."  But the group took down the photo when it realized it was of a drilling rig in Pakistan.

During the rains, the biggest concern were pits to store water used by some companies in the gas drilling industry, but many in the gas industry do not use pits anymore.  Instead mostly tanks or so-called closed loop systems that keep water in closed containment systems at all times are used. 

Moreover the regulations governing open pits require the design of the pits to be able to withstand at least 24 inches of rain falling directly into the pit and to prevent any run-off from flowing into it.

The rains and floods were a huge stress that would have exposed substantial problems in the gas industry's operations if it was not well prepared.  The absence of incident reports indicates that a high grade has been earned.


  1. Great news.
    Same can't be said for the floods in North Dakota earlier this year though. Just shows how the industry behaves differently in different areas, in my opinion. And that's a problem. They ought to be using best practice everywhere if they want to win the public's trust.

  2. I am interested on any information about what happened in North Dakota with the floods and drilling. Do you have any data or articles that I should read?

  3. I can say from experience that not only does DEP require 2' of freeboard, they enforce it VIGOROUSLY. As well they should.

    Those who are dead set against drilling were licking their chops, just waiting for the news of some sort of significant pollution. Twitter was buzzing with anti's going back and forth asking "has anyone found any contamination YET?" Encouraging others to hurry up and snap pictures of anything that looked "embarrassing". To the chagrin of many of them, there was no contamination. This speaks volumes to the regulations, the regulators, and the regulated all working seamlessly. It also speaks volumes to the mindset of many of those opposing gas drilling.

    Self-proclaimed environmental crusaders openly lamenting the fact that there was no contamination with which to nail the gas companies on? Posting pictures of flooded rigs that were actually in Pakistan? I was appalled. Further proof (in my mind at least) that much of what is fueling the fire of the hyperbolic, hysteria driven section of the anti gas movement is hatred of corporations, "big oil", Wall Street, etc., and has little to do with the environment.

    The vast majority of the folks that I've dealt with that have made environmental protection their life (not just their cause of the week)take the much more pragmatic view of supporting natural gas drilling, with the not unsubstantial caveat that it must be done correctly.

    Mike Knapp
    Knapp Acquisitions & Production
    Kittanning, PA

  4. How about this one in Susquehanna county?

  5. When you have a 2' earth berm around your well pad to prevent muddy water and/or spilled chemicals from escaping the pad... and then it rains 10"... what do you expect a well pad to look like? That pad is not flooded. It's retaining the muddy water EXACTLY as it was designed to. There is no water entering the pad, no water escaping.

  6. Hi Nice posting, I agree This design is really good. You got good collection keep it up. I pass this blog to my friends