DEP responds to boring incident

JOHNSONBURG – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] responded to a site along Silver Creek, half of a mile from the reservoir Thursday morning, 48 hours after the Hunt Marcellus Operating Company reportedly leaked a large amount of bentonite into the stream, quickly making its way into the reservoir.DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday reported an increased amount of sediment in the reservoir and a temporary spike in the turbidity following the incident.Sunday said there was not an impact on the quality of the drinking water."There was a brief spike and it has gone down to normal," Sunday said. "There are no health risks associated with the incident."Sunday said DEP will continue to monitor the operation of the site and assist the Johnsonburg Municipal Authority with any issues.Hunt has halted work on the pipeline and will reroute away from the spot of the incident. Johsonburg Municipal Authority chairman Eric Poague said the quality of the drinking water has not changed."The filters are doing what they are supposed to be doing," Poague said. "The reservoir is still turbid, but the filters are getting the turbidity out. The quality of the water going to our customers is the same as it was before the spill."Poague said most of the leaked bentonite has been removed and cleanup efforts will continue.According to Hunt superintendent Mark Wagley, workers used 96 50-pound bags of bentonite and 10,000 gallons of fresh water to bore a 1,200-foot pipeline 45 feet beneath the stream. The pipeline is part of a large network of pipelines designed to supply water to drilling sites.Pick up a copy of the Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.