JKLM Energy fined for water contamination

originally posted on October 29, 2016


Potter County’s only active shale gas driller is moving forward with almost a dozen new wells at the same time it pays over a half-million dollars for violating state environmental laws more than a year ago.

While many companies have scaled back their operations across the region due to low prices and other factors, JKLM Energy is preparing to produce a substantial volume of natural gas in Potter County. By the end of 2017, the company could have as many a dozen wells drilled from pads in four locations.

In July, JKLM tapped a 13-acre tract of privately owned forest land off Rt. 44, not far from Patterson State Park in Summit Township. Activity is ramping up now at a development in the Fox Hill area of Ulysses Township with two pads and multiple wells planned; as well as an operation in Sweden Township off Burrows Road in the Reese Hollow area. These are in addition to the well that started producing gas last year, located off the Billy Lewis Road in Summit Township.

JKLM is focused on extracting gas from Utica Shale formations, found deeper than the vaunted Marcellus Shale. There is potential for other rock strata to be drilled from the same pads in future years.

Earlier this week, the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined JKLM $472,000 for groundwater contamination that affected six private water wells in Sweden and Eulalia townships in September 2015.

A separate $100,000 penalty, to be administered by the county, will be used to install 24/7 monitors on 11 public water supplies across Potter County. These will log water quality data and serve as an early-warning system in the event of contamination. JKLM began drilling a well off North Hollow Road when a bit became stuck approximately 570 feet below the ground. A contractor illegally used about 100 gallons of a drilling surfactant, known as F-485, mixed with water to lubricate the bore and allow the expensive bit to be retrieved.

That chemical-laced substance migrated into the groundwater via subsurface fractures.

DEP said 17 complaints were received by owners of private water supplies. Six were found to have been impacted by the release. JKLM provided alternate water sources and has since installed treatment systems on the affected water supplies.

DEP also said that four public water supply wells operated by the Coudersport Borough Water Authority and Cole Memorial Hospital were sampled and monitored.

“Although they were all temporarily taken off-line as a precautionary measure, none appear to have been impacted,” the department reported.

Since late October 2015, JKLM has installed four groundwater monitoring wells; plugged the three gas wells at the site; continued to monitor the affected private water wells and the monitoring wells with no findings of contamination; and agreed not to apply for any new well permits or drill new wells on the site where the rock fracture was discovered.

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