Crews cleaning up frack water, fuel spilled in wreck

November 14, 2013
A cleanup crew works Thursday at the site where a tanker truck overturned earlier this week on Route 40 in North Bethlehem Township. - Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Two days after a tanker truck accident shut down a section of Route 40 in North Bethlehem Township, cleanup crews Thursday worked to remediate the site where diesel fuel and recycled frack water leaked.

The truck rolled on its side and struck an embankment, causing 80 gallons of recycled frack water and 60 gallons of diesel fuel to leak onto the road berm and into a storm drain, according to John Poister, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The accident also sent the truck’s driver, Kenneth L. Moore, 49, of Washington, to Allegheny General Hospital, where he remains in critical condition. Moore lost control of his vehicle while rounding a turn near the intersection of Brady Road and Route 40 about 5 p.m.

The Young’s Environmental Cleanup Inc. truck had been carrying 5,000 gallons of recycled frack water from one well site to another for natural gas drilling company Rice Energy. Poister said that considering the amount of water that could have leaked, it was a “relatively small spill” and that the diesel fuel was a greater concern. After the accident, Young’s Environmental Cleanup sent another tanker truck to transfer the remaining water.

Young’s Environmental sent cleanup crews to the site to excavate soil and vacuum fluids that had leaked into the storm drain and were discharged into a field on the side of the road, Poister said. They also placed pads and sand to soak up diesel fuel. Donald Long, safety and compliance officer, said the company was following protocol in the cleanup process.

Initially, confusion arose over whether the tanker truck had been carrying fresh water or some variant of frack water. Firefighters at the scene of the accident said they were told it was fresh water, and Long on Thursday also said he believed it was fresh water. However, Poister confirmed that the water had been recycled after being used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Poister said the DEP will take samples of the recycled frack water to analyze what components were in the spillage.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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