Neighbors who spotted this foamy discharge coming from an uncontained area near the Dohler #1 natural gas well site on May 26 received word that the drilling company was served with a Notice of Violation from the Department of Environmental Protection for an unpermitted discharge of an industrial waste.

The news came from Rep. Curt Sonney to local resident Brian Sherman after repeated questions at North East Township meetings went unanswered. Supervisor Gus Neff commented only that the results were “puzzling” at the July 5 supervisor’s meeting.

DEP spokeswoman Freda Tarbell confirmed that a violation had been issued and that the Township had been notified. The DEP is still evaluating whether to issue a fine, Tarbell said.

Samples taken by the neighbors and the DEP on May 26 and 27, and a further inspection, revealed that Killbarger Drilling of Washington, Pa., hired by Lake Erie Energy Partners (LEEP) to drill the well, used a surfactant to clean equipment at the deep natural gas well near 20-mile creek along Route 5 in North East.

Emergency Management Coordinator Terry Thompson was present when the equipment was being cleaned. The lab tests also showed elevated levels of dissolved solids, though not in high enough concentrations to harm aquatic life. There was no evidence of diesel fuel or hydrocarbons in the sample, which was tested in Harrisburg.

The photos show the discharge spilling onto the berm along Route 5 at the same spot where runoff was observed last spring. The DEP and Township Emergency Terry Thompson had assured residents that the broken drainage tile, which had allowed the spring runoff, had been fixed by Lake Erie Energy Partners.

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