On July 4, 2012 approximately 4,700 gallons of hydraulic acid was accidentally released in Pennsylvania. The cause of the release was a hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, well run by Chief Oil and Gas.
Personnel at the site noticed the spill at around 1 p.m. and notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as the Bradford County emergency medical services. Although 4,000 gallons were caught in the containment area at the site, 700 gallons discharged into the tributary and contaminated the surrounding soil. The DEP is claiming that they prevented the acid from reaching Towanda Creek after it flowed over a field into the tributary and that only a few minnows were killed by the release.
Chief drills for oil and natural gas in Utah, Northern Texas and the Appalachian basin. The company is currently drilling at 73 sites throughout the Marcellus Shale area of Pennsylvania. The DEP and Chief are stating that a valve failure on the back of the tanker holding the acid is likely at fault, but the cause of the spill is still under investigation.
A spokesperson for Chief claimed that no drilling or fracking was being performed at the time of the spill. However, the reason for the acid being transported and held at the site was to be used in the hydraulic fracturing process, which involves injecting the acid into the ground to release natural gas. The DEP was forced to excavate the contaminated soil and will monitor the remaining soil and water from the area.