The Spill at Buckeye Creek

Laboratory Tests

Samples for laboratory testing were collected at four different times by three different entities. On 28 August four samples were taken by Ryan Environmental working for the well operator. These locations were called "Above Spill," "Spill/Bad Area," "Ahead of Last Booms," and "Below Last Booms." On 2 September a sample was collected by Downstream Strategies working for Louanne Fatora, a local property owner. Two samples were collected by Ryan Environmental on 1 October. A further set of samples were collected by West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection.

All of these test results, as they are made available, are organized on an Excel table that can be downloaded.

Information about chloride is available on this website and publications about TPH from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry can be downloaded (fact sheet and public health statement -- which is chapter 1 of the Toxicological Profile).

Elevated chloride was noted in the August and September samples. The lowest chloride was found in the the Ryan "Above the Spill" sample -- 46 mg/l. Earlier DEP sampling had found the average concentration of chloride in the creek to be 11 mg/l, though much higher concentrations had been found in the creek and tributaries (average of 61 mg/l). This area has historically had a lot of oil and gas activity. The highest concentration of chloride was found on 2 September -- 168 mg/l. This is below the EPA's and state's chronic maximum of 230 mg/l, at which effects on aquatic life become pronounced.

None of the testing found the presence of volatile organic compounds such as benzene or toluene above laboratories' detection limits.

What laboratory testing of the Ryan samples did find was elevated TPH (Total Petroleum Compounds). TPH -- Gasoline Range Organics (GRO) was not found. Higher range Diesel Range and Oil Range Organics were found. The combined TPH in Ryan's "Spill/Bad Spot" sample was an extremely high 9150 mg/l. Above the last booms it had dropped to 3.98 mg/l.

Testing also included metals such as iron, manganese and sodium, but testing for heavy metals was not done.

Ryan's "post-remediation" tests in October were for locations above the first boom and below the last boom. Chloride had increased to about 183 mg/l for these samples but TPH for both samples was not detected.

A concern of ours is that the testing locations and other details are extremely vague. The depth at which the water sample taken can be important. And for a situation like this, we believe that testing of sediments should be done to get a more accurate reflection of what happened. We also believe that soil from the creek bank that showed contamination should have been tested.

If the spill had occurred some weeks previous, testing the current water contamination concentrations would not give any indication of just how bad the spill had been.

Complicating an analysis of the data is the lack of knowledge of just what the spill consisted of or if it was a short-term or long-term event. If material remained in the pit or source, that should have been tested for a wide range of substances to better understand where the focus for remediation should have been.

 

Go to the next page -- The Office of Oil and Gas' Final Report.

 

The Spill at Buckeye Creek

Background
Photos, part 1
Photos, part 2
Photos, part 3
Photos, part 4
Timeline
Laboratory Tests
The Office of Oil and Gas Final Report
Conclusions


Gas Well Study is the examination of natural gas wells in West Virginia.

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What Happened at Fernow
An investigation into what caused the vegetation death in the land application area after landspraying hydraulic fracture flowback waste.

The Spill at Buckeye Creek
An investigation into a spill from a Marcellus well site into Buckeye Creek in Doddridge county.