On April 19, a natural gas hydrofracturing well owned by Chesapeake Energy in Bradford County, PA suffered a blowout, spewing “thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze.” The spill drained into the Susquehanna River watershed, which feeds Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler now “plans to sue the company for violating federal anti-pollution laws” including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), as a press release issued yesterday explains:
On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA’s prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.
“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” said Gansler in the press release. “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”