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DEP halts a drilling operation in Doddridge County after accident

WEST UNION, W. Va. — The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered operations at a well pad in Doddridge County to cease after an accident last week resulting in the possible contamination of drinking water.

While drilling on the Primm Pad near West Union, Antero Resources notified the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas of a detected gas influx on September 23.

“DEP Oil and Gas Inspectors were notified of a gas influx Tuesday afternoon,” David Belcher, Assistant Chief of the Office of Oil and Gas said. “Wednesday morning, there were further indications that there was a contact with another well existing on that pad and later that day it was confirmed.”

Initial information for the investigation by the DEP indicates the drill for the Stella 1h well collided with the functioning Callie 2h well Monday night.

Upon the collision, methane gas was released from the Callie, underground, affecting the surrounding area.

“Thus far, it appears to have affected four personal water wells, two existing gas wells,” Belcher said. “One of those was abandoned. The other one was owned by an operator. There are indications of gas flows to those.”

The four water wells have been disconnected while samples are being analyzed to determine if they have been contaminated. Antero is providing water to the residences affected, as is required.

The DEP is also inspecting eight other water wells within the vicinity as a precaution, because with the gas spreading to the two other wells, the contamination has the capacity to reach further.

Belcher said the first priority for them was dealing with the leak from the Callie.

“The Callie has been secured of any further gas releases from down hole,” he said. “[Inspectors] do work in the hole to evaluate this damage as close to the surface, which is approximately 641 feet from the surface.”

While the investigation into the cause of the accident and damages continues, the DEP’s restrictions on the drilling operation remain in effect.

“There has been a cease operations by their office enacted on the Stella 1h, which there are provisions necessary on there for abatement,” Belcher said. “Also, two violations that were issued along with that cease operation.”

Antero must prove it has control of the site to the DEP before it can resume operations.





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