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Index > United States of America > Pennsylvania > Tioga Junction Storage Reservoirs is Source of Migrating Gas

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Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

Study Points to Tioga Junction Storage Reservoirs as Source of Migrating Gas

5 July 2007 MEADVILLE -- The Department of Environmental Protection announced today that a U.S. Geological Survey study has found that the natural gas present in some Tioga County water wells is a chemical that matches the gas found in three storage field reservoirs next to Tioga Junction, which are owned and operated by Dominion Transmission and PP&L.

The department credited the U.S. Geological Survey’s use of an isotope chemistry technique for providing the breakthrough in determining the source of the natural gas.

“The USGS study has helped shed some light on the origins of this migrating natural gas,” DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch said.

“The study points to gas from nearby storage reservoirs as the source of gas in 17 water wells along the eastern edge of the gas fields in Tioga Junction.

“These findings will help us determine what actions are necessary on the part of the companies to fix the problem and prevent any future gas migration,” said Burch.

“This information will also help the department determine the extent to which these companies are responsible for the contaminated water wells.”

The department will meet with Dominion and PP&L to outline the firms’ responsibilities for mitigating any health and safety concerns associated with the affected wells.

The companies must also take corrective action to halt the gas migration, and inventory other water wells in the area to determine whether additional contamination problems exist that were not detected by the USGS survey.

DEP first became aware of the natural gas in local water wells as it investigated a complaint in 2001.

While attempting to find the source of gas, DEP plugged four old gas wells in the area.

Additionally, the department worked with the gas storage field operators to have another five gas wells plugged in the eastern part of the companies’ respective storage fields near Tioga Junction.

None of these efforts resolved the gas migration problem, so DEP invested $158,000 to investigate the issue further through the USGS study that began in 2005.

“Isotope chemistry allowed us to define a characteristic ‘signature’ for carbon and hydrogen in the gases,” said Kevin Breen, a USGS hydrologist and lead author of the study.

“While the gas signatures ruled out landfill gases and marsh gas of microbial origin as likely contributors, the weight of the evidence points to storage-reservoir gas as the likely origin of the gas found in Tioga Junction water wells.”

USGS inventoried 91 wells in a 50-square mile area around Tioga Junction to determine the pattern of gas occurrence.

Of that group, the 39 wells found to have the highest concentration of natural gas were further tested for chemical and isotopic composition.

“While we work to shutdown the source of the gas, we encourage residents to take precautionary measures,” Burch said.

“Residents should vent basements and other confined spaces where large volumes of water are used, like laundry rooms.

Venting can reduce the risk of explosion and fire in homes where methane has been detected and may accumulate.”

DEP also recommends that all water wells be equipped with a working vent. Plumbing companies can help homeowners with the procedure, or residents can contact DEP at 814-332-6860 for more information.

To view a copy of the USGS report, visit , and click “Publications” on the left hand side of the page.






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