Cecil Township requests testing at Worstell impoundment

July 8, 2014
The entrance to the Worstell impoundment in Cecil Township - Mike Jones/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Worstell impoundment has again resurfaced as a topic of discussion in Cecil Township. Natural gas drilling company Range Resources continues to use its wastewater impoundment on Swihart Road to service additional wells, and some residents want testing to prove the liner is secure.

Township supervisors Monday unanimously voted to write a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection requesting soil and groundwater testing at the impoundment, which was renamed Cecil Township 23 impoundment.

Reached last week, DEP spokesman John Poister said the impoundment has no outstanding compliance issues. He said the most recent enforcement action dates to 2011, when a barrel of flowback water leaked from a pipe, which he said was cleaned up and remedied.

Vice Chairwoman Cindy Fisher said the township just wants to be safe, especially in light of the news that a leak at Range Resource’s Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township contaminated groundwater with chloride. More than 10,000 tons of soil have been removed from the site since April.

A permit was issued to Range Resources to drill another well on the Engel well pad in Cecil Township, and Fisher said she worries about the continued use of the impoundment without prior testing.

“The fact that they’ve issued yet another drilling permit without ever taking the opportunity to check Worstell … is kind of baffling to me,” Fisher said.

The Worstell impoundment has been a contentious issue for more than year, and has been the subject of several meetings – some behind closed doors – with Range Resources and the DEP.

Some residents and officials challenged the DEP’s assertion that the impoundment could operate indefinitely. Poister said Range would be required to restore the impoundment if its use is discontinued for nine months.

“The (impoundment) permit actually is for an indefinite period of time, and they can add well sites at any time, as long as they feel it’s feasible,” Poister said. “And we don’t object to that as long as the impoundment is secure and as long as it meets our standards.”

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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