Maryland’s attorney general says he plans to sue a gas-drilling company over a leak that spilled thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid into a Pennsylvania creek last month. That creek feeds into the Susquehanna River.
The lawsuit is the first time the downstream state has weighed in on the debate over Pennsylvania’s gas boom.
Maryland gets almost half of its drinking water from the Susquehanna River. Upstream in Pennsylvania, the rush to drill for natural gas has spurred questions about how that drilling might affect rivers, streams and aquifers. Critics worry about a process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which uses high-pressured water, sand and chemicals to free the gas.
In the past year, contamination linked to the drilling industry has led to methane bubbling up in parts of the Susquehanna River.
Last month, an equipment failure at a Chesapeake Energy drill site in Bradford County led to the spill of thousands of gallons of the potentially toxic frack water into a tributary of the Susquehanna River.
Steve Ruckland, an attorney with the Maryland attorney general’s office, said one issue the state has with fracking solution is “that because some of the materials are proprietary we’re not in a position to evaluate from afar what the risks are from such a spill as the one that happened on the 19th. So this is an effort to determine more how we would be affected by the spill that occurred in our watershed.”
The Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy says the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay are too far away to be affected by the spill. Brian Grove, a company spokesman, said environmental testing at the spill site showed no damage to the creek or its wildlife.