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Monday, April 11, 2011

DEP Orders McKean County Resident to Plug Three Abandoned Wells near Recent House Explosion Site

MEADVILLE -- The Department of Environmental Protection has ordered a resident of Bradford Township, McKean County, to plug three abandoned non-Marcellus wells that were discovered during the investigation into the house explosion at 10 Helen Lane on Feb. 28.

Bruce George is the owner/operator of eight wells at a nearby property on West Washington Street. Three of the wells are considered abandoned as they have not been in production in the past 12 months. The order instructs George to begin plugging the abandoned wells within 20 days and finish the work within 45 days.

DEP learned of the wells as part of the search for a potential gas source in the Helen Lane explosion. During the ongoing investigation, DEP staff detected gas in the soil near one of the abandoned wells, Rogers 9, which is located about 300 feet from 10 Helen Lane. The order requires George to plug Rogers 9 first.

“The department considers Rogers 9 a suspect well due to the conditions that investigators have observed,” DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch said. “This order is part of the department’s ongoing investigation.”

Upon completion of plugging each well, George is required to notify DEP. The department will continue its investigation of gas levels to assess the impact of each plugging.

On April 1, DEP issued a notice of violation to George for his failure to plug the abandoned wells. Rogers 9 was drilled in 1881 and the other two abandoned wells were drilled nearly 90 years ago.

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