Pennsylvania regulators halted work Monday at dozens of unfinished natural gas wells being drilled by the company whose out-of-control well spewed out explosive gas and polluted water for 16 hours last week.
The order against Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. will remain in place until the Department of Environmental Protection can finish its investigation and until after the company makes whatever changes may be needed, Gov. Ed Rendell said.
The order stops EOG from drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells. It affects about 70 unfinished EOG wells into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
Another concern was the apparently bungled attempts to notify the right emergency-response officials about the accident. Fines are likely, said Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger.
Nobody was hurt in Thursday’s blowout in a heavily forested section of north-central Pennsylvania. The accident shot highly pressurized gas and wastewater as high as 75 feet. The gas never caught fire, but state officials had worried about an explosion and ordered electrical service to the area cut before specialists secured the well at about noon Friday.
About 35,000 gallons of wastewater have been pumped into holding tanks so far, the company said.
Monitors in a nearby spring show signs of pollution, although Hanger said the spring is in such a rural area that it is not viewed as a public health hazard. Officials say they have detected no pollution in larger waterways that feed public water supplies.
The state says the company is cooperating and is supportive of the stop-work order.
Gary L. Smith, vice president and general manager of EOG’s Pittsburgh office, said the company regrets the accident and would continue to work with Pennsylvania officials.
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