In September, drilling for shale gas in Doddridge Country went wrong when operators accidentally drilled into one of their own wells that was engaged in production. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection confirmed late last week that the accident contaminated water wells.
The DEP issued citations to Antero Resources for breaching of their own wells. The incident occurred at Antero’s five-well Primm Pad in Doddridge County, 641 feet below the surface. When operators realized there was a problem they went to investigate the surrounding community to look for indications of any adverse effects. They found “artesian flow” around three wells which, in this case is when water is under pressure to the point that it flows up out of the ground.
It was then determined that a nearby abandoned well, dug sometime before the 1929, an active conventional well, and at least one private water well were all pressurized as a result of the collision.
The DEP reports that three private water wells were definitely impacted. Test results show elevated levels of benzene and toluene in all three wells—highly carcinogenic chemicals commonly used in gas drilling processes. But the DEP cannot confirm where those chemicals came from since there were other gas wells impacted by the incident. DEP reports that, at the height, chemical levels were four times the legal limit.
Water sampling continues as levels of benzene and toluene are trending down.
DEP says the investigation is on-going.