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Maryland Will File Lawsuit over Pennsylvania Fracking Fluid Spill

May 3, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

The state of Maryland says it will sue Chesapeake Energy over a fracking fluid spill that occurred last month in Bradford County.  The fracking spill was caused by an April 19 blowout at a natural gas well being drilled by Chesapeake Energy

It took six days to get the well, located near the town of Canton in LeRoy Township, under control.  As a result of the blowout, thousands of gallons of chemical-laced fracking fluid spilled into a tributary of Towanda Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River.

The Susquehanna River eventually flows into Chesapeake Bay, and provides the bay with 45 percent of its fresh water.  The Susquehanna River also supplies drinking water for approximately 6.2 million people and sensitive fish populations like the American shad and striped bass are moving into the Susquehanna flats at this time of year.   The city of Baltimore, Maryland also relies on the Susquehanna for drinking water in times of drought.

According to a statement from the Maryland Attorney General's Office, the State intends to file a citizen suit against Chesapeake Energy and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement.  “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”

Because of the April 19th natural gas well blowout, seven families living nearby were evacuated for several hours.  According to a report from, one farmer was told not to allow his cows to drink water on his property because of potential contamination. 

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection issued a Notice of Violation to Chesapeake Energy over the incident outlining possible fines and asking for a complete list of the ingredients in the fracking fluid that was spilled by the blowout.

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