Penn. regulators to inspect gas wells proactively

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says it will start inspecting natural gas drilling sites more aggressively, instead of just responding to incidents:

“Until now our agency has only reacted to those drilling sites where a problem resulted in material entering a waterway or wetlands,” said Dr. Douglas Austen, PFBC executive director. “We are now taking a proactive approach to identify possible problems at a drilling site and to work with the company to ensure necessary measures are in place to minimize the possibility of damaging nearby waterways.”
The agency will focus on those well sites that are in close proximity to Commonwealth waterways, including wetlands. The inspections will determine if adequate measures are in place at the drilling site and access roads to prevent damage to the nearby aquatic resources. As part of the inspections, PFBC staff will also be obtaining water quality data from several locations in the nearby waterway.

Pennsylvania and New York lawmakers have been increasingly nervous over the growth of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formations because of concerns over the fluids used in a key drilling method, hydraulic fracturing. Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas created a stir in Pa. recently when it was fined for spilling fracking fluid three times. It has since entered into an agreement with state regulators over ongoing operations.