Pennsylvania General Energy Co. Fined for Illegal Surfactant Discharge

The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Pennsylvania General Energy Co. $28,960 for the illegal discharge of Airfoam HD, a surfactant, into Pine Creek in Lycoming County last March.

The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Pennsylvania General Energy Co. of Warren, Pa., $28,960 for the illegal discharge of Airfoam HD, a surfactant, into Pine Creek in Lycoming County last March.

Surfactants are used by natural gas drillers to create a foam that will lift water and drill cuttings to the surface. Airfoam HD is approved by DEP for use by the industry.

“PGE responded immediately to this incident and fully cooperated with the department,” said DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber.

During the weekend of March 13 and 14, 2010, there was significant rainfall and snow melt that caused residual Airfoam in a Marcellus well bore to migrate to a spring on the hillside creating a white, foamy substance. The spring was not used as a source of drinking water.

A DEP investigation on March 15 verified that the material was flowing from the spring, down the hillside, under Pa. Route 44 via a storm drain, and into Pine Creek. At the time, the spring was flowing at an estimated 180 gallons per minute.

PGE began diverting foam from the storm drain in the road berm and later placed an absorbent boom across the spring run on the hillside, which prevented further discharges to Pine Creek.

No constituents of Airfoam HD were detected in Pine Creek.

The discharge was a violation of the Clean Streams Law, Solid Waste Management Act, and DEP’s oil and gas regulations.

The fine was deposited into the fund that supports DEP’s oil and gas permitting and enforcement programs.

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