Image: A boom was placed in Pine Creek to help catch contamination
by Morgan Myers
WATERVILLE, PA – A Minuteman Environmental Services truck released 3,600 gallons of HydroRecovery LP‘s “Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid” into Pine Creek after crashing into a cliff along Route 44 yesterday afternoon. Firefighters placed booms in the creek to mitigate contamination. By the time Emergency Response arrived on the scene, the tanker had drained completely. The valve had been severed from the tank.
“Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid is a brine water that has some residual components in it,” said Teresa Copenhaver, Business Development Manger of HydroRecovery L.P., a frack water recycling plant in Blossburg. “We do a chemical precipitation process that removes heavy metals, minerals, and other constituents from the waste waster. It’s diluted down from when it came in.”
When asked for specifics about what “residual components” besides brine were in the treated water, Copenhaver called it “proprietary information.”
“Coke and Pepsi won’t tell you what’s in theirs,” said Copenhaver. “Were not trying to hide anything from anybody, we create a product.”
In addition to Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid the truck released “a few gallons of transmission fluid and a couple pints of power steering fluid,” according to Wes Gordon of Minuteman Environmental Services. “These were more of a concern than the treated water. The treated water is almost like drinking water again.”
“You wouldn’t drink it,” said Copenhaver. “It’s meant 100% for recycling for fracking. The gas companies don’t need a very clean treated water to go down hole.
DEP and Minuteman took stream readings following the accident.
“We took water samples above, below, and at the incident to see if anything had changed. The samples went to the lab this morning,” said Gordon.
According to readings from the USGS station in Waterville, Pine Creek is currently flowing at about 2,300 gallons per second. Gordon of Minuteman said that 3,600 gallons of treated water were released. Responsible Drilling Alliance is still trying to understand what impact the accident will have on the creek.
Several things played into the accident. “The driver wasn’t feeling good so he rolled down the window to get some fresh air at a section of the road without a berm. He creased the first set of rocks, which pushed the front of the cab into the second set of rocks,” said Gordon. “Basically it was just an accident.”
The driver hauling the treated water was not injured.
“He was a little stunned at the beginning but he was checked out by EMS on scene and at the hospital,” said Gordon. “Due to DOT protocol we had to have him drug tested, but this guy has a good record. He passed.”
The accident happened near one of Pine Creek’s deepest fishing holes, a beloved spot near the railroad bridge above Torbert Village.
“Pine Creek is a beautiful area,” said Copenhaver. “I used to live there, hike, and bike the rail trail. I don’t want [accidents] to happen and I know the gas companies don’t either.”