2012-06-21 / Local & State

Clay Drilling Lubricant Leaks Into W. Pa. Creek

POINT MARION, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring a creek where a clay substance used as a lubricant leaked from an underground drilling operation in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The DEP says the bentonite leaked into Georges Creek in Fayette County on June 2 or 3. The substance is naturally occurring clay used to lubricate natural gas pipeline drilling bits and sometimes the underground pressure of drilling forces it up through fissures in the ground and into waterways.

The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reports the pipeline is owned by operated by Laurel Mountain Midstream. A spokesman says such leaks are unpredictable and that the company is working with regulators.

Although bentonite is a natural substance, environmentalists say if too much gets into the water is could harm fish by coating their gills.

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