DEP Shuts Down Gas Wells after Water Contamination in Forest County

DEP Orders Catalyst Energy to Stop Operations at Gas Wells in Forest County Village

Non-Marcellus Wells Suspect in Water Supply Contamination

MEADVILLE — The Department of Environmental Protection has issued a cease and desist order to Catalyst Energy Inc. that prohibits the company from conducting all drilling and hydro-fracturing operations for the 36 non-Marcellus wells within 2,500 feet of two homes in the Yellow Hammer area of Hickory Township, Forest County.

The order was issued after a DEP investigation confirmed that private water supplies serving the two homes had been contaminated by natural gas and elevated levels of iron and manganese from Catalyst’s operations.

DEP first received complaints about water quality – odor and a cloudy appearance – in January. Notices of violation were issued to Catalyst for groundwater contamination Feb. 10 and March 1 for the two affected homes.

In late March, a follow-up investigation confirmed the presence of natural gas above the surface and dissolved in both water supplies.

In 2010, DEP issued permits to Catalyst for 36 non-Marcellus wells in the Yellow Hammer neighborhood.  According to DEP Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch, Catalyst has drilled 22 of those wells in recent months.

Burch explained that Catalyst must conduct the investigation to determine which well or wells may be responsible for the gas migration.

Catalyst’s investigatory responsibility is part of Pennsylvania’s more stringent regulations, which went into effect Feb. 5, related to well construction and gas migration cases.

In addition to its investigation and the obligation to stop all drilling and hydro-fracturing in Yellow Hammer, Catalyst must immediately provide temporary whole-house water systems to the two affected homes. Catalyst must either permanently restore or replace the water supplies by July 1.

The company is required to submit a gas migration status report to DEP every ten days, which provides information on the progress of the investigation.

The 22 wells in question are combination oil and gas wells with an average depth of 1,500 to 3,000 feet.

Catalyst Energy Inc. is headquartered in Cranberry, Butler County.

For more information on oil and gas wells, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Oil and gas.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

One Comment

  1. Joe says:

    Residents can have a report showing potential wells within a certain distance from their address at http://www.shalewatchers.com

Leave a Comment