Drilling company may face settlement agreement

RIDGWAY - Elk County Waterways Conservation Officer Thomas McMann of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission attended Monday night's Elk County Conservation District [ECCD] meeting to report on a bentonite spill that occurred along Silver Creek near Johnsonburg in November 2011.On Nov. 15, the Hunt Marcellus Operating Company spilled a large amount of bentonite into the stream. The bentonite quickly made its way into a reservoir controlled by the Johnsonburg Municipal Authority.Bentonite is a form of impure clay that easily absorbs water and is often used to facilitate gas drilling.McMann said he is preparing to offer Hunt a settlement agreement and will add up the hours he has put into the investigation, including an additional $44.78-per-hour pollution penalty that has recently been instituted by the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission.