Once again theatrics over inadvertent returns are spreading through the media and pipeline opposition groups are hopping on their soapboxes.
Marcellus Drilling News reported that during horizontally directional drilling (HDD) for Mariner East 2 Pipeline underneath Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania there was an inadvertent return. The end result was five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud spilling.
An inadvertent return occurs when drilling mud seeps to the surface due to geology and soil qualities that create pathways along the bore path for the mud to escape. In other words, there may be an existing crack in the bedrock where the water-bentonite mix can escape.
As part of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations, Sunoco Pipeline is required to have response plans in place at all designated HDD locations to contain the drilling mud that flows to the surface in the event of an inadvertent return. Under this comprehensive plan that is already put in place crews contain, remove, and recycle any drilling mud that escapes during HDD activities.
The use of HDD actually allows construction crews to minimize the impacts to the environment. The process of using HDD allows the pipeline to bypass culturally sensitive areas and avoid traffic disruption, and it further protects the pipeline from third-party damage.
We must stop allowing false narratives to overshadow the truth, pipeline construction and use is the safest way to utilize natural gas.