The Post-Gazette’s recent article about identifying, reporting and responding to spills at natural gas drilling locations (“Drillers Did Not Report Half of Spills That Led to Fines,” Aug. 3) amounted to another attempt to unnecessarily frighten people about an industry that makes environmental protection its highest priority.
Natural gas producers and their service companies report incidents that have the potential to impact the environment to the Department of Environmental Protection. Workers on these locations are trained to monitor all potential points where leaks may take place during drilling operations, as well as in areas on the perimeter of the pad. Turning the issue of “who got there first” into an insinuation that the environment and private property are at risk, as this story did, has no basis in fact. When companies identify a spill, they report it. Many of them use third-party consultants to assist in monitoring all aspects of environmental performance in their drilling operations.
Left out of this story were several other key facts. Many of the spills reported to DEP are investigated and found to be of so little consequence that a fine or enforcement action is not warranted. The process of drilling and completing more than 6,200 wells, along with an enormous amount of associated support activity, is significant, and the number of spills associated with that level of activity is extremely minor.
Most important, water in the commonwealth is monitored by state and federal agencies as well as hundreds of watershed, conservation and environmental organizations, and ground and surface water sources are clean.
Vice President and General Counsel
Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association