Cleanup underway after drilling mishap
CHERRY CREEK — A “frac-out” from a drilling line tied to the Cassadaga Wind Project caused a heavy flow of mud to sweep over Farrington Hollow Road late last week. Cleanup, which is controlled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has been taking place on the site to alleviate the problem as quickly as possible.
A representative from the DEC said an evaluation of the incident is ongoing. “The DEC takes water quality issues seriously and immediately responded to evaluate complaints of turbidity in Cherry Creek,” a spokesman said. “The DEC will ensure any impacts are fully addressed. Our evaluation is ongoing and additional information will be provided as it is available.”
Upon arrival on Farrington Hollow Road, the road itself is down to one lane of travel for a somewhat lengthy stretch as crews are working on the cleanup. Several trucks and vehicles were lined up, as crews worked in a marshy area off the side of the road. The road itself still has a somewhat thick, muddy coating covering it, though it does not hinder the ability to drive on it.
The Cassadaga Wind Project consists of 48 turbines in Cherry Creek, Stockton, Arkwright, and Charlotte. Construction efforts have been taking place over the last year.
A frac-out can occur as a result of directional boring in the area, which has a chance of releasing drilling fluids into the surface environment. A frac-out is when drilling mud is released through fractured bedrock into surrounding rock and sand, which then travels toward the surface, according to the up-to-date Frac-out Plan, released by New York state. Additionally, though it has the potential to adversely impact fish and invertebrates if released into water bodies, drilling mud is not considered toxic or hazardous, which Cherry Creek Supervisor Bill Young echoed.
“This isn’t harmful to the environment,” Young said. “There’s really nothing wrong, but if people call me to ask questions, I will respond to them.”
As part of the frac-out response plan, directional boring was halted immediately in response to the incident, and the fluids are being contained. The trucks responsible for carrying the fluid out run on a cycle of an hour as they continue to work to clean up the affected areas.
“I don’t want to start something that will cause undue excitement or anxiety,” Young said.