Observer Reporter article on Brush Run spill

A good article about a spill in Southwest PA.


Brush Run tributary site of spill

By Michael Bradwell Business editor
This article has been read 2389 times.
Range Resources said Friday that a temporary above-ground water transfer line connection failed Tuesday night and discharged about 250 barrels of partially recycled flowback and fresh water into a small, unnamed tributary to Brush Run on private property in Hopewell Township.

The company said the water, which contained about 1 percent chloride salt, killed between 200 and 300 minnows but other aquatic species living in the tributary survived.

Helen Humphreys, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said species including crawfish and frogs also were observed to be impaired or dying. DEP officials inspected about four-tenths of a mile of Brush Run in the area of the spill.   Humpreys said Range Resources’ “response to the event was appropriate. Nonetheless, it was an unfortunate incident.”

Brush Run is a high-quality stream under Pennsylvania law, meaning it meets standards of chemical and biological makeup that warrant special protection.   According to an incident report released Friday by the gas-drilling company, the discharge occurred when a 90-degree elbow coupling failed at the bottom of a hillside because of a manufacturing defect.

Employees at the site immediately shut down operations when line pressure dropped and the pipe failure occurred. A vacuum truck and absorbent material were used to remediate and remove impacted water within two hours of the spill. Fresh water was flushed throughout the affected area. Range said the DEP was notified immediately, and the company began working with inspectors within 40 minutes of the spill.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said Friday that Range is now recycling and reusing nearly all of the water used in its drilling operations, resulting in almost no wastewater disposal.   Range said once its analysis of the incident is complete it will update its management practices and the equipment used in water transfer technologies.

“Because water transfer technology is critical to the long-term development of the Marcellus Shale, we will review lessons learned with the DEP and share that information with other companies active in the Marcellus,” Range said in a statement. “We have worked closely with our subcontractors and the DEP since this incident occurred. The supplier of the defective pipe coupling has also been on location to determine how the initial failure occurred.”   The company said it will work with local authorities and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commission to restock the unnamed tributary.