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Environment: Keeping watch of wind work

It’s good to know the state DEC is overseeing cleanup of a “frac-out” in Cherry Creek at the site of the Cassadaga Wind LLC wind turbine project.

A “frac-out” can occur as a result of directional boring in the area that can release drilling fluids into the surface environment. A frac-out is when drilling mud is released through fractured bedrock into surrounding rock and sand and then toward the surface.

We’re not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the state Public Service Commission requires wind turbine developers to be ready for such incidents, but a seven-page document on file with the PSC in regard to the Cassadaga Wind project lays out a clear process for dealing with a frac-out.

Of particular concern are complaints of turbidity in Cherry Creek. While the drilling fluid may not be toxic, fine particles in the fluid can smother plants and animals, particularly in an aquatic environment. According to Utility magazine, there are also reports of sections of road rising, water pipelines falling as a frac-out washes away bedding sand, power boxes filling with fluid and vegetation disappearing into sinkholes caused bya frac-out.

We’re sure DEC officials will do their best to make sure the mud and any other drilling materials aren’t making their way into the surrounding watershed — and people in the area should pay attention to make sure none of the other issues arise either.

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