On July 24, and again on August 8, 2010 Allegheny Defense Project board, staff, and volunteers visited the Elk State Forest to view the EOG Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites in the our state forest lands. Elk State Forest currently has over 16 permitted wells in Mckean County. We visited the area of the forest south of Kersey to check on a cluster of permits that we learned about from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Rig Report data. According to documents recovered in our July 8, 2010 file review at DEP, EOG plans to drill 500 wells in Clearfield and Elk Counties within the next four years, just in the Susquanna River Basin. Data for well drilling predictions is not available for western Pennsylvania or the Allegheny River Watershed (Ohio River Basin).
Our crew discovered 5 well sites within 1/4 mile of each other on Boone Mountain Road or Sawmill Run Road. Two were actively being drilled (see video), the others had already been drilled and the crews had moved on leaving an anchor well behind to hold the companies occupation of the surface. The surrounding forest was dominated by oak. The companies had bulldozed stumps and limbs to the edge of the drilling area at some of the sites, using the woody debris as fill to build up their drilling pads—not a recommended strategy if you want a stable substrate.
Drilling Contractors Dallas Morris Drilling Inc. (DMD) and Horizontal Well Drillers (HWD) are working the sites in tandem with DMD apparently drilling the vertical bore and HWD drilling the horizontal bores that reach a mile or more horizontally from the vertical well. Well pads ranged from two to five acres with no evidence of water impoundments or wastewater pits. A gas pipeline had been recently (i.e., within the last two years) constructed along Boone Mountain Road.
A Residual Waste truck entered the southern most well site (not currently posted on the marcellus well permit map) while we viewed a posted Erosion and Sedimentation Plan. According to documents at the site the wastewater is being trucked off site. According to documents ADP recovered from DEP the EOG wastewater is being taken to the facilites in Creekside, Josephine, Franklin, Saltsburg, and Ridgeway (see waste facilities list below; download document). The drilling fines (or cuttings) are, however, staying on the site. Presumably these include the fines from layers that have contaminates, including radioactivity and heavy metals, but they are being buried on the site in the Elk State Forest (see image below).