Responding to Emergencies at Marcellus Shale Sites

Photo by Steve Partridge. Some rights reserved.

The Pennsylvania legislature recently passed a short but sweet bill (SB 995) requiring emergency response information to be posted at the entrance to each “unconventional” well site in the area.

In this case, “unconventional” is a roundabout way of saying “fracking”. Or, more technically, as explained by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in a related alert last week:

The term “unconventional well” is defined to mean a natural gas well for production of gas from an unconventional formation. An “unconventional formation” is one below the base of the Elk Sandstone formation, or its equivalent, where natural gas cannot generally be produced economically except when the well bores are stimulated by hydraulic fracturing, use of multilateral well bores, or other techniques to expose more of the formation of the well bore.

The bill, which was signed by PA Governor Tom Corbett on February 2, requires such well sites to develop an emergency response plan, register the unique GPS coordinate address of the site with the Dept of Environmental Protection, and post a reflective sign at the entrance to each site with its address, emergency contact number and “other such information” deemed “necessary.”

Marcellus Connection quotes State Rep. Brandon Neuman as saying, “It’s very important for our local first responders to know where the drilling is going on […] a lot of the wells are in uncharted territory.”

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