Allegheny Outdoor Adventures Bradford, PA

What's in Yeager Brook

What's in Yeager Brook? Or a better question might be "what's not in Yeager Brook? Unfortunately, this isn't a laughing matter!

Earlier in the week some of the local media outlets reported on a "milky white substance" that appeared in Yeager Brook in the Allegany State Park in NY just across the boarder from Bradford.

The Olean Times Herald ran a story tittled "There's something in the water..." that talked about "a milky white substance New York state parks officials believe is related to oil drilling in neighboring Allegheny Nation Forest in Pennsylvania that was found in a remote brook in Allegany State Park earlier this week".

So a few of the local environmental and outdoors groups (including mine) decided to visit the area in the upstream headwaters of Yeager Brook to take a look at what could possibly be flowing into Yeager Brook, from the Pa side of the line.

The company that is drilling in the area has a local reputation of being "sloppy" and "cutting corners" so we suspected that we might find some violations of environmental laws and perhaps some "corners cut" on the rules and regulations .... and as it turned out we were a bit surprised just how "sloppy" this operation actually is!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words ... so we took hundreds of photos between us all. And they tell quite a story!

"What's in Yeager Brook"? ...... Well, here it is! In the following photos you will see road drainage going right into the headwaters of Yeager Brook, unlined brine pits, and damaged or missing "E&S" (Erosion and Sedimentation) controls (those black mesh screens and bails of hay you might see near drainage ditches and streams).

And as dry as this season has been (along with recent past dry seasons), the oil drillers are pumping what little water is in Yeager Brook to use for drilling and/or fracking their many wells! Leaving much less for the fish and other aquatic creatures!

"What's NOT in Yeager Brook"? Good question, but here are some of the things that ARE in it!

Our tour this day started west of the Yeager Brook watershed, in the next one west, Chandler Creek. It's here we saw this new "unique" sign we never seen before!

We just had to take a group picture (this was just some of our group)

The first "brine pit" we came to. Messy to say the least, but this is one of the few that had a liner that we saw! By law ALL pits in the ANF (and perhaps in the state) have to have a heavy plastic liner

Oops! Where is the liner in this pit? I have to laugh a bit, because once when I was telling somebody about a pit not having a liner, I was told I was wrong and I just didn't know what I was looking at. Trust me, there is NO liner in this pit, nor were there in several others. Whatever went into this pit, went into the ground (and ground water!) around it.

The fence is supposed to keep people and animals from falling into the pit

So much for the safety fence!

Some of the "stuff" running into the headwaters of Yeager Brook, and into NY and the Allegany State Park- It's sort'a milky white

I *think* this pit might not have a liner! We'll see what the DEP thinks about it ....!

Here is a tank battery that is leaking something .....

Into the ditch along the road, past the "no E & S" and into the headwaters of Yeager Brook! More "stuff" in the creek!

Hey! That looks "milky white" if you would ask me ......

..... And somebody did! Yep! Sure looks "milky white" to me! What color would you describe it as?

Now this is not funny! She just read the red labels that say "do not puncture" ... all over them .... and you guessed it, some of them are punctured! Holes in the very important pit liners!

Yet another of the many ditches draining into Yeager Brook that does not have an *effective* E & S control

Ah, now here is a lined pit ... or one that appears to be lined to me ... admittedly not an expert on brine pit liners .... pay attention to the obvious "high water mark" around the inside ......

This hole must regulate the water level! I'd call that a puncture if you asked me.

Bill B of the ADP checking the well permit number

A messy drill site nestled among an old giant hemlock stand

A muddy mess even though it hasn't rained in a while

As you can see, the sediment can easily flow around this (useless) bail of hay ........

....... AND this crumpled up E & S screen just laying in a pile off to the side

One more drainage ditch with no E & S that is draining into headwaters feeding Yeager Brook

As crazy as it sounds, the oil driller are pumping water out of this tiny feeder stream that is the headwaters of Yeager Brook

Look how narrow this stream is and notice it don't even cover this hikers boots! THIS is the stream they are "sucking dry"

This is pretty disturbing. It's a well and a pit that is just feet above a spring coming out of the hillside.

As you can see, their aim is off a bit .... most of the "fluid" missed the pit

Here is the spring just over the bank from the well and the brine pit

Would YOU drink this water? Would the drillers?

Some of the group after the tour!

Many thanks to the ADP for organizing this event! More people need to get involved if we are to have clean water in the state of Pennsylvania and New York! YOUR water or aquifer may be next! Please get involved today!

Control, storage and disposal of production fluids.

 (a)  Unless a permit has been obtained under §  78.60(a) (relating to discharge requirements), the operator shall collect the brine and other fluids produced during operation, service and plugging of the well in a tank, pit or a series of pits or tanks, or other device approved by the Department for subsequent disposal or reuse. Except as allowed in this subchapter or otherwise approved by the Department, the operator may not discharge the brine and other fluids on or into the ground or into the waters of this Commonwealth.

 (b)  Except as provided in §  78.56 (relating to pits and tanks for temporary containment), the operator may not use a pit for the control, handling or storage of brine and other fluids produced during operation, service or plugging of a well unless the pit is authorized by a permit under The Clean Streams Law (35 P. S. § §  691.1—691.1001) or approval to operate the pit as an impoundment under The Clean Streams Law is obtained from the Department under subsection (c).

 (c)  The operator may apply for approval from the Department to operate a pit as an impoundment under The Clean Streams Law, as indicated by the Department’s issuance of a pit approval number in accordance with this section. No pit will be eligible for approval under this subsection unless the capacity of any one pit or of any two or more interconnected pits is less than 250,000 gallons, or the total capacity contained in pits on one tract or related tracts of land is less than 500,000 gallons. Compliance with this subsection does not relieve the operator from the obligation to comply with section 308 of The Clean Streams Law (35 P. S. §  691.308) and the requirements for obtaining a permit for the erection, construction and operation of treatment works promulgated under that section.

   (1)  A request for approval under this subsection shall be made on forms furnished by the Department and, at a minimum, shall include the following:

     (i)   A description of the operator’s plan that demonstrates compliance with this subsection for the construction or reconstruction of the pit.

     (ii)   A description of the operator’s program for operation and maintenance of the pit.

     (iii)   A description of the method for subsequent disposal or reuse of the brine or other fluids produced during operation of the well.

     (iv)   A description of the operator’s program for the closure of the pit and restoration of the site.

   (2)  The operator shall design, construct, operate and maintain the pit in accordance with the approval and the following:

     (i)   The pit approval number is posted at the pit in a legible and visible manner.

     (ii)   The pit is not located within 100 feet of a stream, wetland or body of water unless a waiver is granted by the Department.

     (iii)   The bottom of the pit is a minimum of 20 inches above the seasonal high groundwater table.

     (iv)   At least 2 feet of freeboard remain at all times.

     (v)   The pit is structurally sound and the inside slopes of the pit are not steeper than a ratio of 2 horizontal to 1 vertical.

     (vi)   The pit is impermeable and is lined with a synthetic flexible liner or alternate material that has a coefficient of permeability of no greater than 1 x 10-7 cm/sec. The liner shall be of sufficient strength and thickness to maintain the integrity of the liner. The thickness of a synthetic liner shall be at least 30 mils. Adjoining sections of liners shall be sealed together in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions to prevent leakage.

     (vii)   The physical and chemical characteristics of the liner shall be compatible with the waste and the liner is resistant to physical, chemical and other failure during transportation, handling, installation and use. Liner compatibility shall satisfy EPA Method 9090, Compatibility Test for Wastes and Membrane Liners, or other documented data approved by the Department.

     (viii)   The pit shall be constructed so that the liner subbase is smooth, uniform and free of debris, rock and other material that may puncture, tear, cut, rip or otherwise cause the liner to fail. The liner subbase and subgrade shall be capable of bearing the weight of the material above the liner without settling in an amount that will affect the integrity of the liner. If the pit bottom or sides consist of rock, shale or other material that may cause the liner to leak, a subbase of at least 6 inches of soil, sand or smooth gravel, or a sufficient amount of an equivalent material shall be installed over the area as the subbase for the liner.

     (ix)   Prior to placing brine or other fluids in the pit, the operator shall inspect the liner and correct all damage or imperfections that may cause the liner to leak.

     (x)   Surface water which may drain into the pit shall be diverted away from the pit.

     (xi)   The pit is reasonably protected from unauthorized acts of third parties.

   (3)  Upon abandonment of the well or revocation of the approval by the Department, the operator shall restore the pit in accordance with the following:

     (i)   The free liquid fraction of the pit contents shall be removed and disposed under §  78.60(a) and the remaining pit contents and liner shall be removed and disposed under § §  78.62 and 78.63 (relating to disposal of residual waste—pits; and disposal of residual waste—land application), or the Solid Waste Management Act.

     (ii)   The pit shall be backfilled to the ground surface and graded to promote runoff with no depression that would accumulate or pond water on the surface. The stability of the backfilled pit shall be compatible with the adjacent land.

     (iii)   The surface of the backfilled pit area shall be revegetated to stabilize the soil surface and comply with §  78.53 (relating to erosion and sedimentation control). The revegetation shall establish a diverse, effective, permanent, vegetative cover which is capable of self-regeneration and plant succession. Where vegetation would interfere with the intended use of the surface by the landowner, the surface shall be stabilized against accelerated erosion.


   The provisions of this §  78.57 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229.

Cross References

   This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.54 (relating to general requirements); 25 Pa. Code §  78.55 (relating to control and disposal plans); 25 Pa. Code §  78.56 (relating to pits and tanks for temporary containment); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.58 (relating to existing pits used for the control, storage and disposal of production fluids).

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This material has been drawn directly from the official Pennsylvania Code full text database. Due to the limitations of HTML or differences in display capabilities of different browsers, this version may differ slightly from the official printed version.

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