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USA: Susquehanna River Methane Gas Bubbles

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:35 am
by HVPA_research
Link to this page:

* Archived from GOOGLE SEARCH: "methane bubbles susquehanna river"

Australian media are these days full of articles about methane gas bubbles in the Queensland Condamine River (see e.g. A simple Google search shows that similar cases of spontaneous methane migration associated with the gas industry already occurred in other parts of the world, for example two year ago in the US Susquehanna River. It would be interesting to find out how the local residents, the gas company and the regulators reacted. Thus this simple media review based on the first two result pages of a simple Google search. It is far from comprehensive - anyone with a computer and an internet connection can do it.


Local residents noted that the West Branch Susquehanna River bubbles with methane gas. They suspected that the gas emissions were linked to a nearby shale gas exploration about a mile up the river.
Here are two videos:
PA Department of Environmental Protection was called to investigate and they took samples of the gas. A gas company representative from the Chesapeake Energy also arrived and said that their gas wells had not been fracked yet. Local residents had to start changing water filters on their wells more often because the filters were clogged by an unknown substance .


DEP Investigating Source Of Methane Bubbles In Susquehanna River
This blog gives details and shows that the PA DEP takes this case of methane migration very seriously. They gave the public an emergency phone number so that local residents could report any new observations.
Chesapeake Energy has been working at the direction of DEP to determine the source or sources of the stray gas," said DEP Secretary John Hanger. "Gas migration is a serious, potentially dangerous problem. Chesapeake must stop the gas from migrating."

Chesapeake has screened 26 residences within a one-half mile radius of the river and found six water wells to have elevated levels of methane. Chesapeake monitored each of the houses served by an impacted water well and found no indication of methane gas in the homes.
On September 3, high levels of methane were detected in the crawl space under a seasonal residence. Emergency responders were contacted to ventilate below the home and gas and electric utilities were shut off to eliminate any potential for ignition.


DEP probes methane bubbles
Some further details on this case of methane migration:

On June 25, DEP received a complaint of bubbling in a beaver pond west of Wyalusing. Methane was discovered Aug. 6 in a residential water well along Paradise Road in Terry Township.

Although Chesapeake has drilled numerous natural gas wells in the area - including the six wells at the Welles pad about two miles northwest of the Susquehanna River that DEP believes are the source of the earlier contamination - they have not been hydraulically fractured so no gas has been produced, Hanger said. The methane is not from the Marcellus Shale, which typically lies 5,000 to 8,000 feet deep, he said.
"The gas that is migrating is almost certainly gas from a shallower level, that should have been contained but wasn't," Hanger said.

Hanger said Chesapeake has been fully cooperative, including changing drilling practices, using different kinds of cement and well casings and agreeing to look at all 61 of its wells in the area.


Searching for the Source of Methane Gas
Methane Bubbles
One week later, people concerned,methane detectors installed in their homes but still no explanation.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA, July 17, 2011
Ten month later:
Susquehanna River Bubbling Methane on 7/17/2011

PENNSYLVANIA, USA, November 15, 2011
Gas Migration into the Susquehanna River and Surrounding Area . . .
A more detailed article with links and references - some patterns are emerging.
This is the introduction -
This is only one of quite a few “incidents,” but is what is the focus here — more examples like Dimock, PA, or the Tioga gas field, or Schreiner in western, PA, Pavillion, Wyoming, etc. THE ITEMS BELOW ARE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER with three maps at the bottom. At least one lawsuit has been filed and some residents have had to leave their homes because of health effects — they have become refugees.

Damascus Citizen and DEP disagree on the failed well casing explanation
“At various times throughout 2010, DEP investigated private water well complaints from residents of Bradford County’s Tuscarora, Terry, Monroe, Towanda and Wilmot townships near Chesapeake’s shale drilling operations. DEP determined that because of improper well casing and cementing in shallow zones, natural gas from non-shale shallow gas formations had experienced localized migration into groundwater and contaminated 16 families’ drinking water supplies.”

This above is disingenuous (fancy term for neat lie) editorial statement masquerading as authoritative information. Here though you do have the list of some of the townships involved, but the editorializing “improper well casing and cementing in shallow zones, natural gas from non-shale shallow gas formations had experienced localized migration into groundwater and contaminated 16 families’ drinking water supplies.” is not accurate – some of the gas wells involved have not been fractured – some have – and the isotopic tests that would prove the origins of the gas have not been made public and maybe have not been done. The casing situation is a distraction as an item to point to as the casings always leak – see Dusseault casing paper and others (

Chesapeake Energy was fined $900,000.
When former Gov. Tom Ridge was a guest last month on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” to advocate for natural-gas drilling on behalf of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the show played a clip of a Bradford County resident setting fire to her tap water – one of the 17 water supplies the state determined had been impacted by methane seeping from Chesapeake Energy gas wells and for which the company paid a $900,000 fine.

Fred Baldassare, EPA stray gas inspector see the situation differently:
Quote from Baldassere in this:
The geology in Northeast Pennsylvania is also complicated and, in some rural regions, rarely studied, meaning there were few good historical maps for the drillers’ reference, said Fred Baldassare, a former stray gas inspector with DEP who now owns Echelon Applied Geoscience Consulting. “It’s a very complex system with deep-seated fractures and deep-seated thrust faults that come to the surface,” he said. These are pathways that are now being understood by industry that maybe at the beginning of the drilling process here they weren’t appreciating.”

The article shows maps and positions of the gaswells and concluded that
the current guess is appox. over 60 square miles are impacted.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA, November 19, 2011
Methane Still Bubbling in Susquehanna at Sugar Run, PA: Day 444
Today it will be 444 days since methane began bubbling up in the Susquehanna River at Sugar Run in Bradford County. Still no resolution to the problem. Where is it coming from? When will it be stopped? Unanswered questions.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA, March 7, 2012

Video Citizens Speak Up About Contaminated Water in Franklin Twp., Pa.
Several Citizens speak up about their water wells being contaminated with high
and explosive amounts of methane and high barium and other contaminants
since gas drilling and fracking in their township. This has been happening the past
year since several well sites went up around them. DEP has been at their homes
and tested and they are not drinking their water. They are telling the township supervisors and the representative from WPX Energy about their problems and want help. Taped 3-6-12.
This is in Susquehanna County, P

See also Comments for this video.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA, March 15, 2012
State searching for cause of methane in Franklin Twp. water wells
Methane migration observed at another location in Franklin township.
DEP officials originally indicated to residents in January that the likely source of the gas was a natural methane seep documented for over a century in nearby Salt Springs State Park

Video shows how does it look like when you have high pressure methane in your water well:
Mr. and Mrs. Manning are two of seven people who live in the yellow house on Route 29, including two daughters and three young grandchildren.
Told by environmental consultants not to use the hot water, the furnace or the kitchen stove, the family relied solely on space heaters all winter, and continues to cook on a two-burner hotplate and shower with the windows and doors open.
One of Mrs. Manning's daughters has been paying a friend $20 a month so she can bring her children to her house to bathe.
After the water stopped spurting, Mrs. Manning stood by a barrier assembled from a wooden pallet, orange cones and a reflector to keep people away from the well. Tacked to the pallet are "No Smoking" and "No Parking" signs.
"Nobody in the neighborhood has seen anything like this before," she said.
"All of a sudden a geyser erupts and it's all natural to Northeastern Pennsylvania?"

DEP blaims defective well casing as for methane migration
Everything is still part of the investigation," she said. "We're not ruling anything out."

DEP cited WPX Energy for defective casing or cement in two of the natural gas wells closest to Franklin Forks last year. The nested strings of steel casing and cement are meant to protect aquifers from gas and other fluids in the wells, but flaws in the barriers have caused methane to migrate into water supplies throughout the region, most notably in Bradford County and Dimock Twp. 15 miles south.

DEP inspectors also found gas bubbling from between the casing strings on three more WPX wells on the same two well pads - the DePue and Hollenbeck - although those wells were not cited for violations. Bubbling is often viewed by state regulators as an indication of a leak or defect in a well's construction.

Looks like that it is up to the local residents to take official pre-drilling water samples from their wells.
The investigation is made more difficult by the fact that water samples were not taken from the wells prior to the start of gas drilling, she said. The affected water wells are outside the radius around a natural gas well in which a driller is presumed responsible for contamination under state law unless it has pre-drilling water samples to prove otherwise.


- authorities do not trust observations and opinions of the local residents
- methane gas migration can, in certain situations, occur as far as several kilometers from fracked or unfracked gas wells
- casing of the gas wells is generally not as perfect as the industry likes us to believe
- the gas industry may not have a complete information of the geology in the given area and tends to ignore faults, fractures and thrusts
that may become conduits for the fugitive methane migration
- gas industry experts tend to speak more openly when they are no longer employed by the industry or by the regulator
- the regulator offices may not release all scientific information, such as methane isotopic analysis results, when it does not suit them


Tags: methane, gas, bubbles, river, Susquehanna, USA, PA, video,wells,casing,drilling,water 201206