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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

State orders drilling halt after 2 wells are polluted in Forest County

The state Department of Environmental Protection has determined that natural gas has contaminated well water at two homes on private properties within the Allegheny National Forest in Forest County and ordered Catalyst Energy Inc. to halt drilling and hydraulic fracturing at 36 non-Marcellus Shale wells in the area.

The order requires Catalyst, headquartered in Cranberry, to halt all drilling operations on new wells and to conduct tests to determine which of the 22 vertical wells it has already drilled in the Yellow Hammer area of Hickory is causing the water contamination.

The 22 vertical wells already drilled are combination oil and gas wells. Eighteen of those 22 wells have also been "fracked," a procedure that uses water, chemicals and sand pumped down the well under high pressure to fracture the rock layers and release the oil and gas.

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