Elk County Conservation District Manager Steve Putt reported on his visit to the Silver Creek site after the Hunt Marcellus Operating Company spilled a large amount of bentonite into the stream, quickly making its way into a reservoir controlled by the Johnsonburg Municipal Authority.
Bentonite is a form of impure clay that easily absorbs water and is used to facilitate gas drilling.
On Nov. 17, two days following the incident, the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] and Putt responded to the site along Silver Creek, half of a mile upstream from the reservoir.
"We continue to work with Hunt on that project," Putt said. "In addition to the problem with the release of the bentonite, the site had some significant erosion and sediment violations and Hunt agreed to voluntarily shut down operations until the site came into compliance."
Putt and Tom McMann of the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission visited the site again the following day to survey the stream for dead fish.
"No dead fish were found," Putt said.
Follow-up meetings were held with Hunt on Dec. 6 and 8 to discuss the progress and corrective actions for the site.
Pick up a copy of the Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.