You may recall I previously sent you a report, sent to me by a friend, about a gas well drilling accident near the hamlet of North Brookfield in Madison County. The original report is archived on the chenangogreens.org website under Gas drilling-water risks-North Brookfield wells disturbed. Since I was still curious for more details, I decided to take a field trip to North Brookfield today.
North Brookfield is a small hamlet in south-eastern Madison County, just east of NYS 12. It consists of a few dozen, mostly older, homes scattered along a narrow road that winds up a hill heading towards the considerably larger hamlet of Brookfield. The center of the community is dominated by a church, the firehouse and a bar. Since I didn't know anybody and the bar was the only place open I ended up spending some quality time at Buck's Inn.
Buck"s turned out be a clean friendly place and I had an interesting conversation with the owner and some of the customers. My original impression was that only a few homes/wells were involved, but the owner insisted that most of the homes in the area were affected. While my earlier source mentioned reports of bubbling in the small creek that runs thru town, the owner described it as "boiling." He also claimed that caps were blown off water wells. He witnessed one well spurting water that "looked like grey paint spurting 15 feet in the air."He stated that most people had "signed-off",receiving treatment systems and cash settlements in return. he quoted figures of 20-30 thousand, but, of course I have no way of verifying that. He and a few others refused to sign-off. His water was cloudy after the incident,but has since returned to normal and tests okay. Still, he says "who knows if it will in the future?"
The owner and others gave me directions to the well site, but said there was nothing to see, it was all"covered-over." I found the general location, based on the location of a cross-
road, and my odometer testified to the accuracy of their half-mile estimate, maybe a bit more. The distance and the number of people involved made a significant impression on me.
This was definitely not a "minor" incident. It would be interesting to know if people in other directions from the well-site were affected to an equal degree. I'd also like to see the specific site, but it was getting dark.
I am quite certain that I have located the well in question on the DEC well database.The API well number is31053238390000. The details conform with my previous info. It is called Button 1 and was permitted to Ardent Resources,Inc( a private gas drilling and production company, incorporated in New York State but based in Pittsburgh, PA.) The target formation was Black River(Trenton?) and the proposed depth was 3700 feet. The start/spud date is listed as2/9/07 and the completion and plugging/abandonment dates are both 2/13/07. The true vertical depth reached was only 406 feet. Appears, Ardent chose to cut their losses and run. Gives a whole new nuance to the term "cover-up".
I have no indication of chemical contamination in this incident, but questions remain. I understand that Ardent contracted for water testing. Who took the samples? What did they test for? My biggest question still remains "What if?"