What officials have call significant leaking of drill waste-water is occurring at the John Day Range Resources impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County, just south of the town of Washington. And recently, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson for Pennsylvania (PA DEP) confirmed that Range found the leak during an inspection. They are said to have reported the problem late last week.
Range quickly hired a consulting firm to plan a fix for the issue and the PA DEP has officially stated that a "significant" chunk of polluted soil will have to be completely removed from affected areas. In addition, Range Resources will receive an official notice that categorically lists its code violations. There hasn't yet been any mention of fines or firings; however, the DEP did say that civil penalties are likely to follow.
Impoundments are used by companies like Range Resources to do one of two things: they can either fresh, clean water that will be used during the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) process, or they can be used to store tainted water that surfaces after the well begins pumping and producing natural gas. The fresh water is just that–fresh, generally clean, and usually come from a nearby fresh water source, such as a river. The tainted water that surfaces when the well begin pumping gas is mixed with the number of other chemicals used during the fracking process, as well as chemicals and other underground radiation that is let off upon breaking through to the gas pockets.
A Range Resources spokesperson contends that the impoundment is not leaking, but that it is in fact being upgraded; however, workers outside of Range who have been contracted to do certain jobs reported that the earth around the area was discolored and strange odors were being emitted.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "DEP investigating line leak at gas waste water site in Washington County" 18 April 2014