DEP knew of public water contamination from drilling and fracking in Coudersport, but told no one

One Year Later: Officials Found Drilling Chemicals in Public Water, But Told No One

"One year ago, on September 24, 2015, a new company owned by billionaire Terry Pegula — JKLM Energy — announced that it had contaminated private drinking water supplies while drilling for natural gas in Potter County, Pennsylvania. ... Public Herald has uncovered evidence that, from the very beginning, JKLM Energy and DEP officials knew contaminants were detected in public drinking water, but told no one. ...

In 2015, an October 7th email to JKLM representatives obtained by Public Herald, PA DEP Program Manager Jennifer Means wrote: “We…noticed the detects of MBAS and acetone in the hospital spring, and BTEX in Coudersport’s Well 1..."

BTEX — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene — are a group of carcinogenic compounds that can damage human health. The chemicals are often in fluids for fracking, and have been detected at high volumes returning back to the surface as ‘flowback’ — or wastewater."

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TreeMom; it is not an esoteric argument as the antis have succeeded in convincing the public that fracking is unsafe, has polluted many wells across the country, and should be banned. Saying that 'fracking' is the entire process is a down right lie.  If you want to convince people to ban all well drilling than go for it.  But be honest about what the process is.

All wells have been fracked for over 40 years. Its a well-proven (no pun intended) process. Using this incident of a broken bit at only 570 feet, that wasn't even fracked, to paint all fracking as unsafe is dishonest. As people learn the truth about it, the credabilty of the anti-frackers will be further damaged.

Jim, a couple of points. The general public does, albeit incorrectly, consider the whole drilling process as "fracking".This is primarily due to the disappointing lack of transparency and education from the drilling community.
Secondly, ther are a lot of environmentalists that recognize that the natural gas is a step towards lower co2 emissions and a greener future for our children. The propensity for many on this forum to immediately refer to anyone with an opinion contrary to theirs as "lefties" "liberals" "dufus" and on and on only serve to stop the very transparency and education this subject needs and deserves.
In Tioga county we have a lot of trees. We may occasionally hug one. Not because we are weak, or leftist or a bunch of dufus. It's because our grandfathers have shown us the photographs of when the logging companies came and cut every single tree down and walked away.

Mark;  appreciate your advice. But the public confuses fracking not because of the industry but because the antis purposely distort issues like in the original post here and blame everything on fracking.  Look at treemom's post where she considers the entire process as 'fracking.' They know they have succeeded in demonizing fracking so now they label every activity as fracking. Its a key part of their misinformation program.

And the media is more than complicent. First, most people in the media are to the left and also are against fracking. They could write articles that differentiate fracking from other activities but they don't because it gives their stories more impact. The other problem with the media is that they know scary headlines drive sales and clicks so putting fracking in every headline boosts their bottom line.

I too don't trust all E & Ps to be environmentally responsible. I camp. hunt, fish, canoe, mountain bike and I have seen the pics of denuded mountains. I also have seen first hand some of the pollution caused by vertical drilling over the years and know that all drilling must be monitored.

But I cannot condone misleading and dishonest posts such as those by Paul.  He has been posting such for a long time here and this one is typical.  He knew the problem was a broken bit at a shallow depth when he posted the original post but he chose to leave that detail out.  I have also attended some antis public meetings and the disinformation is astounding. Until there is an honest debate, this type of discussion will continue.

I guess we are pretty much in agreement The point I am trying to make is that while the anti-fracking activists jump on every opportunity to press their issues, truthfully or untruthfully, it has been my impression that the drilling community tries too often to fly under the radar hoping ,I assume, not to draw attention. I believe they would better serve themselves and their cause by getting ahead of the story and releasing a timely and honest account of what happened rather than have to battle back from what you argue are distorted if not out right dishonest accounts of an event by groups with an agenda other than disseminating factual reporting.
I consider myself an environmentalist And I have spent a considerable amount of time driving the back roads of Tioga and Potter counties not just out of concern but also because I find the whole process fascinating. I also spend a good bit of time in Bucks and Lehigh counties. I am regularly amazed at the contradictions between what I see up north and what I am told I see by folks down south. I see little to no environmental degradation on anything other than the relatively small well pad itself and instead I'm more likely to see deer grazing on the newly planted right of ways. Yet I was recently informed by someone from Bucks county ( that had never been near a well) that frackers had destroyed multiple counties in the northern part of the state and all was lost. I told her that if she truly believed that and wanted to do something about it, that the best form of protest would be to immediately throw the main breaker in her home and refuse to purchase electricity from a gas fired power plant. She didn't get it.
I said in the public's eye the whole process is part of fracking. I do know the difference thank you. And you dismiss me as ignorant and ignore the point I was trying to make, when O&G companies make a mess they need to clean it up. I am a landowner and I care about both the industry and the envrironment.

It’s unfortunate that there’s nobody educating the public – you are right that they lump every part of the drilling and completion process under the word “fracking”, a term which had (and retains) its own technical meaning before the public started paying attention. It’s like calling the entire health care system “vaccinating” and saying that people die from it all the time.


Drill bits get stuck when drilling water, geothermal, oil and disposal wells too, so the accident JKLM had wasn’t specific to the gas industry. And many geothermal wells are hydrofracked, and even some water wells get a similar treatment. So there is a cost to the quality of the debate when the participants don’t take the time to learn a common language.


We clearly need responsible operators, and we also need natural gas production to replace coal in our power plants. There is a win-win option out there if people were as interested in working together as they are in arguing. I would certainly put JKLM in the responsible operator category, and so I hope they don’t let these attacks by the Public Herald slow them down.

No way fracking chemicals could get to the aquifer? Wrong, Jim.

Fracking fluids start their life at the surface, and by definition, flowback is frack wastewater that has returned to the surface due to pressure, so no, Jim, of course it wouldn't be the first time that chemicals from a mile deep traveled a mile vertically to get to the surface; it happens all the time, right up the pipe. If there are leaks in the casing and cement, that could cause contamination of the aquifer, as could migration into a leaky abandoned gas well. Leaks and intentional dumping at the surface are another possible source of contamination.

Leaky tanks are pretty common:

Paul, here's some more advice; being a dufous also hurts your credibility. Anyone that reads my post will know I was saying that frack fluids do not travel through a mile of rock to work up to the surface.

Surface spills and bad casings are a different topic altogether. Surface spills are cleaned up and wells with bad casings are either repaired or plugged. There are much more chemicals spilled on the surface from automobile antifreeze, a common fracking fluid, and motor oil.  Too many people change their own and just dump it on the ground. Add in accidents and normal spillage and the total is huge. Guess we should go back to bicycles and horses like you.

Not surprised that you tried to distort my post. Its the SOP of the antis. Funny that you don't see how much that hurts your own goals.


So sad.

If there were leaks in the casing or cement the well could not have been and would not have been "fraced".

Just love the qualifiers you use, "could cause, possibly". An asteroid "could possibly cause" the extinction of life on this planet. But not very likely, neither are the pathetic scenarios you continue to pose.

Keep throwin' those soft balls, we'll keep hitting them outta the park.

Jim, I like the moniker "dufous" for our friend Paul.

Some results of a peer-reviewed research paper below.

My synopsis: Between 1% and 12% of Pennsylvania oil and gas wells drilled in the last decade leak. Leakage rates are higher in unconventional (fracked) wells than conventional wells, and are highest in northeast PA. Leaks can result in groundwater contamination by methane, other gases, and liquids.


“Leaking oil and gas wells have long been recognized as a potential mechanism of subsurface migration of thermogenic and biogenic methane, as well as heavier n-alkanes, to the surface. A leaking well, in this context, is one in which zonal isolation along the wellbore is compromised due to a structural integrity failure of one or more of the cement and/or casing barriers. Such loss of integrity can lead to direct emissions to the atmosphere through one or more leaking annuli and/or subsurface migration of fluids (gas and/or liquid) to groundwater, surface waters, or the atmosphere. Cement barriers may fail at any time over the life of a well for a number of reasons, including hydrostatic imbalances caused by inappropriate cement density, inadequately cleaned bore holes, premature gelation of the cement, excessive fluid loss in the cement, high permeability in the cement slurry, cement shrinkage, radial cracking due to pressure fluctuations in the casings, poor interfacial bonding, and normal deterioration with age.

Due to the lack of publicly available structural integrity monitoring records for onshore wells from industry, more recent studies have used data from state well inspection records to estimate the proportion of unconventional wells drilled that develop cement and/or casing structural integrity issues. For instance, … Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) notice of violation (NOV) records…

... unconventional wells spudded in the NE region since 2009 (2,714 wells) show a similarly high rate of [loss of well integrity] (9.18%).

Pennsylvania state inspection records show compromised cement and/or casing integrity in 0.7–9.1% of the active oil and gas wells drilled since 2000, with a 1.6- to 2.7-fold higher risk in unconventional wells spudded since 2009 relative to conventional well types. Hazard modeling suggests that the cumulative loss of structural integrity in wells across the state may actually be slightly higher than this, and upward of 12% for unconventional wells drilled since January 2009. …

A recent investigative report of water contamination cases confirmed PADEP determination letters and enforcement orders indicating that at least 90 private water supplies across the state were damaged due to subsurface gas migration between 2008 and 2012 (25). The NE region of Pennsylvania, in particular, has experienced several widely publicized methane migration cases related to loss of structural integrity of wells, including the Dimock, Susquehanna County and Towanda, Bradford County groundwater contamination cases.”

Assessment and risk analysis of casing and cement impairment in oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, 2000–2012, Anthony R. Ingraffea, Martin T. Wells, Renee L. Santoro, and Seth B. C. Shonkoff,

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), July 29, 2014.

" My synopsis: Between 1% and 12% of Pennsylvania oil and gas wells drilled in the last decade leak" looks to me like a great big guess. If we are to make such definitive determinations as to how oil and gas production are harming the environment, contaminating peoples drink water and generally making people sick I would think we need more accuracy.

My point has, is and always will be that the very minimal reports of problems associated with producing energy from fossil fuels are the price to be paid for powering a country's growth, wealth and production.

The producers make a rare mess and clean it up and if a fine is leveled and damages to individuals are necessary then so be it.

We have no other choice really, there is no viable substitute to power a nation, green energy is in no way anywhere near close enough to meet our needs.

Environmentalists rail against energy producers for their sometimes dishonesty but so many times they mislead or obfuscate themselves.

For 25 years we have been bombarded by one ridiculous prediction of environmental doom after another without said predictions coming true to any degree.

Give us a viable alternative and we'll do it, but you cannot and you know it.

And don't throw stones from a glass house.


Very little or none of that is true or based in fact. It is all conjecture and assumption. The piece even states that it is based on "modeling", computer modeling. It's a guess.

Plus the models depend upon the information provided. So if you have people who are anti shale entering the info do you think they might only enter info that helps their case? Of course. And, do you think those same people would leave out info that disproved their case? Of course.

That's what we have here, remember garbage in, garbage out. This piece you have posted is pure garbage, a myth perpetrated by anti shale people.

Look who the source is, the king of myths and garbage science - Tony Ingraffea.

This information was debunked long ago. But true to anti shale play book you bring up old and unrelated information.

As Jim has pointed out, this was not a completed well.


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