Responsible Drilling Alliance

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Inflection Strikes Again

This containment structure on the Yeagle Road well pad was dismantled following the spill.

By Ralph Kisberg, RDA founding member


Congratulations to Inflection Energy of Denver, Colorado – the company that has once again:  


All this occurred last week during and after an incident on the gallingly named TLC well pad, located on Yeagle Road in Eldred Township, less than a mile east of the Loyalsock Creek.    

On November 14th, the PA DEP issued the following statement:    

A release of filtered flowback fluid occurred November 13 on Inflection Energy’s TLC well pad, in Eldred Township, Lycoming County.  While the fluid was being transferred between two tanks, it overtopped the receiving tank and discharged to the well pad surface, flowing off the pad and into an adjacent unnamed tributary to Loyalsock Creek.  Inflection Energy estimates the volume of the release at approximately 63,000 gallons of fluid.  An environmental remediation contractor is working onsite.     

DEP staff conducted field conductivity screening and collected multiple samples for analysis.  The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has also responded to this incident.  DEP does not anticipate any impacts to public drinking water supplies at this time.  DEP’s investigation will continue. 


Perhaps the first question that comes to mind is, “How does something like this happen?” Someone falls asleep? Has a heart attack? The second might be, “Why didn’t anyone else notice what was happening until 63, 000 gallons had ‘overtopped’ the receiving tank?” Third, or maybe first, “Just how ‘filtered’ was this flowback and what was in it in the first place?” Or maybe, “What about all the private drinking water supplies near the site?”    

Following a front-page article in the Williamsport Sun Gazette and a statement from PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Inflection’s spin masters spun into action with this press release:    

Eldred Township, Lycoming County — Inflection Energy (PA) LLC was notified at approximately 5:30 a.m. Monday of a release of treated and filtered brine water on its TLC well site in Eldred Township. Inflection is continuing containment and remediation efforts in response to an overflow of treated and filtered brine water that was released onto the well pad. After investigation, it was determined that only a portion of the treated and filtered brine water migrated beyond the pad’s limits. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has stated that it does not anticipate any impacts to public drinking water supplies at this time.    

The company was notified by the contractor on site of a breach in containment during the treated and filtered brine water transfer process, part of Inflection’s water recycling practice, and immediately began remediation efforts. The company immediately contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and it is working closely with the DEP and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Inflection is also working with an environmental firm to oversee the containment and remediation efforts.    

Based on information obtained by the company, the issue appears to have resulted from errors committed by a contractor on site who was responsible for monitoring the transfer process of the treated and filtered brine water. A preliminary investigation by company officials determined that approximately 1,500 to 1,700 barrels of treated and filtered brine water were released at the site.  

Company officials have deployed resources to contain and remediate any treated and filtered brine water that has migrated off the well pad toward a nearby unnamed tributary that feeds into Loyalsock Creek. At present, no treated and filtered brine water has been detected in Loyalsock Creek. Monitoring will continue at the unnamed tributary and Loyalsock Creek.    

About Inflection Energy: Inflection Energy (PA) LLC is a privately-held independent natural gas exploration and production company. Based in Denver, Colorado, with a regional office in Williamsport, Pa, Inflection is committed to the responsible development of its shale gas resources in northeast Pennsylvania.


Do you think Inflection may be trying to give the impression that “filtered and treated brine water” was the only thing that spilled? Eight times they repeat the phrase. Did you get their message? It was only harmless filtered and treated salt water, nothing to worry about. Even the Sun-Gazette didn’t fall for that.      

Neither did the PA DEP, as the agency made clear in its response to questions published online by    

What is flowback?  

Flowback is the fluid returned to the surface immediately after hydraulically fracturing a well.     

Flowback fluid is from hydraulic fracturing, right?    



By now, anyone interested must have a rough idea of what an incredibly toxic mess even “filtered and treated” flowback is. How about the benign sounding word “brine”? If we don’t know what it is, we could turn to, say, a source directly from the oil and gas industry, like the Slumberger Oilfield Glossary:      


1. n. [Geology]  

Water containing more dissolved inorganic salt than typical seawater.   See: connate water, formation water, fresh water, interstitial water

2. n. [Drilling]  

Saline liquid usually used in completion operations and, increasingly, when penetrating a pay zone. Brines are preferred because they have higher densities than fresh water but lack solid particles that might damage producible formations. Classes of brines include chloride brines (calcium and sodium), bromides and formates.  

See: aquifer, completion fluid, producing formation


There are more definitions, none of them excuse Inflection’s wordsmithing. Lying actually. But why should anyone be concerned? The “brine” was “treated and filtered.” Slumberger OFG again:      

Filtered brine

English | Español
1. n. [Well Completions]  

A completion or workover fluid that has been treated to remove debris and fine particles that may cause near-wellbore damage if allowed to enter the reservoir formation.  

See: completion fluid, workover fluid


The sad part of this feeble attempt by Inflection to assure local residents ( Inflection is not the only operator to attempt to foist the “brine” lie onto the public) is that no one else appears to be looking out for them. All the residents have private water wells, although the average depth of the residents wells seems to be around 120 feet, RDA Board member and fishery biologist Dr. Harvey Katz points out that actual water levels are likely much shallower.    

Why does the DEP mention only public water supplies when there isn’t a home on a public water supply anywhere near the “overtopping” site? (Just because DEP only regulates public water supplies and PA has no well water standards for private wells is no excuse for making irrelevant public statements and ignoring the real issue. DEP has been sampling willing nearby resident’s water but this fact is not in any public statement we have seen.)  

Why wasn’t there secure containment in the event of overflow of a tank? Isn’t that required by law?    

How would Inflection’s baloney and DEP’s reassurance in the Q and A (“There is not a threat to human health from the spill”) sit with you if it was your family’s water supply that was near the “TLC” pad?    

Has anyone else had enough of Inflection Energy’s “TLC”?    

RDA’s Barb Jarmoska was there the day after the spill when DEP field agents were taking water samples. Barb talked with local residents; take a look at her insightful thoughts in the accompanying article.    

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