A hydrofracking well exploded near Leroy Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, spilling chemically treated water into a nearby creek that feeds the Susquehanna River and prompting the evacuation of certain residents. The incident occurred while a crew from Chesapeake Energy Corporation was in the midst of "fracking" the well, a method by which one injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into dense rock at high pressures in order to release oil and gas. The cause of the spill was reportedly due to equipment failure.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stated that Chesapeake has now contained the spill to the drill site, although the eruption in the well itself is not yet under control. It is has not known by the state what chemicals were involved in the fracking process, or how much of the fluid spilled into the creek. No injuries have been reported, and state environmental regulators plan to test/monitor the creek and private water wells in the area for contamination.
Many of our readers know that we have been tracking developments in the hydrofracking industry, and recently conducted a webinar that discussed the potential insurance and reinsurance exposures related to this emerging source of alternative energy (a link to the webinar can be found here).