When the county park was first
created, property owners were faced with either selling or having
their land condemned. In the last paragraph of a legal document
deeding part of this acreage to Washington County we find this:
“The indenture is given to
provide land for recreation, conservation, and historical
purposes, as said purposes are defined in the ‘Project 70
Land Acquistion and Borrowing Act’ approved June 22, 1964, P.L. 131”
Does this look like
or historical purposes?
Trees clear-cut for another Marcellus Shale well pad
the park in August 2011. Six wells were then completed
on this drilling pad along Route 844.
2014 map Map shows the 6 well pads
already developed inside the park along with many more well pads
surrounding the park
FISH KILLS IN CROSS CREEK
2009 Fish Kill
Pa DEP Fine
Permit Num: 125-23165
Well Name: Cross Creek County Park 14H
Company: Range Resources Incident Date: 5/27/2009
Inspection Date: 5/27/2009
Fine Date: 2009-10-28
Group Fine: No
Violation: Spill; a company contractor was walking along
a pipeline that was conveying hydraulic fracturing
flowback fluid from a well site located in Cross Creek
County Park to a large impoundment when he noticed that
couplings that held the pipeline together in two
locations near the well site were leaking fluid onto the
ground, down a hill and into an unnamed tributary of
Cross Creek, a high quality watershed; an inspection
found that the flowback fluid, as well as sediments that
flowed with it, entered the creek and killed both
invertebrates and fish along the length of the unnamed
tributary; the company estimated that about 4,200
gallons of the flowback fluid spilled onto the ground
and the creek; though the company contractor discovered
the spill at 1:30 p.m., state personnel weren't called
until 5:15 p.m., in violation of state law.
Response: Company said that the two couplings that
leaked both had three bolts on them loosened, though the
company could not say how or why; the company
immediately tried to contain and recover as much of the
spill as possible, setting up check dams in the unnamed
tributary and sucking up what of the flowback fluid it
could; impacted soil and sediment was excavated and
disposed of in a landfill and the areas were later
reseeded; because of this the company stopped using
couplings on its pipelines, and inspections of pipelines
Pa. Department of
Environmental Protection documents:
2015 Fish Kill Some blamed this event on spawning
stress. The problem with that theory is Crappies and Bass
died in addition to Bluegills. Even though the timing of this fish
kill was close to Bluegill spawning, Crappies spawn much earlier.
other reasons for fish kill
By George H. Block
Sunday Outdoors Column
May 30, 2015
many, read with interest the article about the dead fish
found at Cross Creek Lake. It seems an angler found
quite a few dead bluegill and crappie along the
shoreline and reported it to the proper authorities.
understand after reading the Observer-Reporter, the
cause was blamed on post-spawn stress, which I, along
with many others, find hard to believe. I must say, in
all honesty, I have never seen it, even though I am an
Cross Creek Lake photo provided
I make it
my business to fish many a small farm pond and all of
them hold a good number of bluegill, and a few are also
home to crappie. There are a few ponds I stocked with
these fish that I caught in one local pond and released
familiar with both of these panfish, and my first
thought was the two don’t spawn at exactly the same
time. I am not a biologist, though I have a grandson who
is. Even a
nonprofessional who spends a lot of time pursuing fish
can have an opinion.
spawn when water temperatures reach 56 to 59 degrees.
The bluegill require waters to reach slightly higher
temperatures and spawn when waters reach 67 degrees.
Cross Creek Lake photo provided
temperatures are what trigger the spawn and are far
enough apart to spread spawn time to about three to four
weeks in a normal season. With that spread, it seems
unlikely both would die of post-spawn stress at the same
carcasses of dead fish can disappear pretty quickly as
every local beast, fowl and crayfish gobble them up.
Just maybe we should be looking in another direction for
the cause of this fish kill.
follow-up on 2015 Fish Kill June 11, 2015 biologists and
the water quality specialist from the Pa. Department of
Environmental Protection investigated a fish kill on Cross Creek
Lake. Dead crappie and bluegill were found at sites 1, 2, 3 & 4.
The pH was over 9 at sites 8, 9 & 10, so the water quality
specialist plans to investigate that further.
Dissolved Oxygen /
Depth from initial site
11.61 / 16 ft.
9.65 / 10 ft
10.47 / 10 ft
10.58 / --
11.12 / --
2.11 / --
1.27 / --
12.29 / --
11.33 / --
September 19, 2014
Photos of a
new drilling pad inside the park
October 11, 2012 aerial view of a 6-well
with wells #17H-18H-19H & 45H-46H-47H
Plan for 48H-53H Six Well
Pad & Production Equipment Pad
Total Area: 10.1 acres
October 11, 2012 photo of the
excavated drilling pad for 48H-53H
investigating spill at Cross Creek
By Barbara Miller
March 15, 2013 - The state DEP has
issued a notice of violation to Range
Resources Corp. in connection with a
water spill last month at Cross Creek
County Park, a DEP spokesman said
Friday. John Poister, DEP spokesman in
Pittsburgh, said workers on the
Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling
site noticed what is known as “re-use”
water entering a secondary containment
area. “It appears open-top storage tanks
were overflowing. Water flowing into
these tanks was not being monitored."
Range reported the spill to DEP, which
sent inspectors. “We consider this a
significant spill, and we will evaluate
the entire incident, response and
cleanup before we make any decisions on
a civil penalty,” or fine.
director of the Washington County
Planning Commission, which oversees
county parks, said the Feb. 12 spill
involved about 40 barrels of water
(1,680 gallons). She has had a
representative of the Washington County
Conservation District and parks
superintendent Kevin Garrison monitor
the site, which has been mulched. Range
drilled its first horizontal well in the
3,500-acre Cross Creek park in 2008.
under the dam
drilling, placement of storage tanks or
accessory uses shall be permitted below
elevation of one thousand fifty (1,050)
feet to the east of the breast works of
Cross Creek Dam. No fracturing of rock
will be allowed within a 3,000 foot
radius of the dam, for all strata above
the top of the Onondaga Formation unless
otherwise approved in writing.
fracturing of rock will be permitted
from the surface of, to 3,000 feet below
the Cross Creek Dam, within a 3,000 foot
radius of said dam, unless otherwise
approved in writing. However, fracturing
of rock shall be permitted within said
radius provided that fracturing is
performed in the Marcellus Shale
formation. Notwithstanding the
foregoing, any well bore that passes
within the 3,000 foot radius of the dam,
at any depth, shall require express
written approval of the Lessor, said
approval to be an authorized county
signature on the DEP well permit plat.
2011 - Washington County solicitor J.
Lynn DeHaven used the term "reparations"
when announcing an agreement he reached
with Range Resources over clear-cutting
done in error at Cross Creek County Park
near West Middletown. Clear-cutting by a
Range Resources contractor was done "in
an area specifically off-limits. It was
one of the oldest stands of hardwoods in
the park, the hillside we didn't want
them touching," said Lisa Cessna.
first encroached on West Middletown
Cemetery property, then moved into an
area of the park that was off-limits.
But the mood among the county
commissioners was anything but
belligerent Thursday morning, because
Range agreed to provide $100,000 worth
of in-kind services at the park. Range
is also to reimburse the county $14,247,
which is double the value of the trees
cut, based on estimates given by the
story link was removed)
RANGE VIOLATES PARK
16, 2011 - Range Resources' violation of
a lease with Washington County on the
site of a natural gas well pad on park
property in Hopewell Township was raised
Thursday after a Peters Township
resident told county commissioners
"drilling in Cross Creek Park has run
solicitor J. Lynn DeHaven said Range was
told to "cease and desist." "They were
cutting trees where we had not
authorized them to cut trees, so we
stopped them. The pad site was not where
we approved," Fergus said. "It was an
engineering error on their part. They
thought they were on the county property
when they were on cemetery property.
We learn from this New York Times
article that radiation levels in the wastewater from Cross Creek
Park 6H OG Well were off the chart! Some of the locations for
dumping that brine (wastewater) were listed, but the largest amount
of brine was disposed of at a location NOT LISTED.
Cross Creek Park 6H had these alarming
levels of liquid radium:
Federal drinking water
limit: 5 pC/iL
Level from this site: 2,260 pC/iL
Radium Content of Oil- and Gas-Field Produced
Waters in the Northern Appalachian Basin (USA)
Excerpts below: Cross Creek 6H is Well/Sample ID 11.1 and 11.2
Flowback & Produced
from Cross Creek County Park 6H
PA DEP Permit #125-22830
Date of Samples: 4-9-2009 & 6-29-2009
Radium 226 in Brine (pCi/L) 951
Radium 226 in Brine (pCi/L) 1,280
in Brine (pCi/L) 703
in Brine (pCi/L) 1,110
Total Radium in Brine (pCi/L) 1,654
Total Radium in Brine (pCi/L) 2,390
TDS (mg/L) 157,000
TDS (mg/L) 200,000
Uranium 238 in Brine (pCi/L) 90
Benzene 880 ppb
SLUSH PIT ON 6H & 8H WELL PAD What happened to the drill cuttings from the
slush pit on 6H & 8H? They got 'teabagged' and buried onsite!
Below is part of the well completion report on
file with the Pa. DEP:
March 10, 2003 Lease – Page 35 & 36
Burial of slush pits aka
‘Alternate Waste Management’
was a clear violation of the park's original lease:
“All trash, rubbish, or waste materials
from each drilling site shall be removed and disposed of in a
properly licensed solid waste site. All pits shall be filled
with earth and developed per County specifications at Lessee’s
expense upon completion of each well.”
What are they, how are they managed, and should we be
Cross Creek Park 14H-15H-16H
Horizontal drilling of the three Cross Creek County Park
Marcellus Shale gas wells 14H - 15H - 16H. Fracking of
these wells resulted in a
spill and fish kill in the park
14H - 15H - 16H well pad and battery of condensate tanks.
Production from these 3 wells dropped an average
during the 18 month period ending December 2010
Cross Creek Park Well #5
First well permitted in the park - March
July 2011 No Trespassing signs have been removed from the
gate area to #5 but the gate remains locked
Production from #5 dropped to a trickle 3 years after it was
drilled, as indicated in the production reports below. The well was
permitted by the Pa. DEP to be plugged in late-2013.
The entry sign may still say Great Lakes Energy Partners, LLC
but these are now Range Resources gas wells. Range Resources
purchased FirstEnergy's 50% share of Great Lakes in 2004, ending a
5-year joint venture.
CROSS CREEK PARK WELLS OWNED IN PART
BY WASHINGTON COUNTY
June 7, 2009 Photo shows the drilling pad for 14H, 15H and 16H in
Creek Park. The three Marcellus wells are being
in this photo. Frac tanks line the drilling pad.
December 23, 2009 through July 15, 2014 -
This modified water plan was approved December 23, 2009 by the Pennsylvania DEP:
Range Resources Water Management Plan summary: 200,000 gallons per day from Brush Run 200,000 gallons per day from Cross Creek 800,000 gallons per day from
Cross Creek Lake 200,000 gallons per day from Chartiers Run 665,000 from Connoquenessing Creek 250,000 from a Marion Twp Water Tank 200,000 gallons per day from Whiteley Creek 1,656,000 gallons from three PAWC Pittsburgh-McMurray hydrants
(Monongahela River source) Total = 4,171,000 gallons of water per day from all sources
Over 4-million gallons of
water per day (4,171,000) is DEP-approved to be withdrawn from the Ohio River Basin
by Range Resources through July 15,
2014. Ohio River Basin
water withdrawals by Range and 28 other drilling companies
brings the grand total to 48.5 million gallons per day
through mid-2014 or early 2015.
Eastern American Energy Corp. also has an
approved water plan for withdrawal of 500,000 gallons of
water per day from Whiteley Creek, a waterway that has been detected
as having Golden Algae present, and is therefore very vulnerable to
any situation increasing TDS (total dissolved solids).
Range Resources' DEP-approved water plan allows for withdrawing
800,000 gallons per day from Cross Creek Lake, a prized fishing lake
in Washington County, PA.
AFTER APPROVAL See how the new water withdrawal plan
is going in 'before and after' photos below. The Washington County
Parks and Recreation Department indicated in mid-November that part
of the water level drop was due to a "leaky gate" which had
temporarily been repaired.
Cross Creek Lake
BEFORE: Spring 2009 above
AFTER: Fall 2009 below
This 244 acre Washington County owned
lake is managed under the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Big Bass and Panfish Enhancement programs. Besides
bluegills, crappies and largemouths, it also yields saugeyes.
Cross Creek Lake
BEFORE: Spring 2009 above
AFTER: Fall 2009 below
note: This article was written before the fish kill
occurred at Cross Creek Lake. Photos were added later to
illustrate the various areas mentioned in the article.
remember that Cross Creek Lake belongs to the people
By George H. Block
Observer-Reporter, Outdoors Editor
If you were down to your last pair of
shoes you would hardly go out to the barn wearing them
and shovel manure.
With that idea in mind is it any wonder that outdoorsmen
and women are so protective of Cross Creek Park? In past
years I would walk from the upstream bridge, which used
to be a covered bridge, sit along the bank and enjoy the
beauty around me. Sometimes I would spot a soaring
osprey and marvel as it did a better job of catching a
fish than my futile attempts. We complained under our
breath as we walked in the swampy areas stepping on an
occasional skunk cabbage or soft spot, but wouldn't have
it any other way.
Now we sit and listen as the trucks go in and out and
the pumps whine as they draw huge amounts of water from
the lake. Trees and plants that were once green are gray
with dust. The lane leading down to the lake was once a
quiet walk but now one has to dodge large trucks and
uncaring workers. You see my friends, the almighty
dollar has won out again, proving that anything can be
bought if you have enough money.
I was thinking all this as I entered the
park and saw for the first time the No Trespassing signs
on land that as a citizen of Washington County I thought
was mine along with the rest of the populace. Instead of
the birds I listen to the roar of the pumps and the
jabber of the workers. This has been a dry spring as
most have noted and on entering the park and passing the
first swampy cove I noted how little water was running
into the lake.
Little did I know that on my return trip I would have to
cross a stream of mud flowing into the lake. It hadn't
rained so the mud could only be coming from one place.
Before the drilling we were assured this wouldn't
happen. So much for assurances. No matter what the
reason, accident or deliberate. I wasn't supposed to
happen. Of course there is always the money. The economy
is bad so lets sell the county.
We are assured that the drilling does
little damage to the environment and yet at every turn
in the road we see signs warning us of seismic crews
working. If the drilling does no damage then why do we
need to waste resources on seismic crews and such? Don't
believe me? Just take a Sunday drive through Chartiers,
Mt. Pleasant or Cross Creek Townships and see the
beautifying of your county - and I should emphasize your
We have but one lake in the county that is worth fishing
and that is Cross Creek. Is protecting this one piece of
water too much to ask or is anything and everything for
sale. Tom Campbell said it best when he said, "Why can't
they just leave us alone? Allow one small piece of land
and water be, where I can relax and get away from the
pollution and noise of society."
Cross Creek Park and Lake used to be a place of renewal.
Now it's a place of noise and dirt and a definite threat
to the quality of the lake itself. For some years now
the Pennsylvania Game Commission has stocked pheasants
on Cross Creek Park property. Will hunters now face No
What of those who hunt turkey, coyote and woodchucks?
Will they still be allowed to utilize the park property?
Or will the wells and drilling activity supersede the
public's use of the park?
Of course there is always the money.
All one has to do is walk along the bank of the upper
lake to hear the opinion of what is happening at the
park. I can't repeat what is said about the drillers and
the politics that have allowed this to happen.
I can't help but remember that stream of mud flowing
into Cross Creek Lake on a clear dry day during a dry
month. It makes one sick.
A couple of years ago the lake was
lowered to install water lines. The problem was that the
lowering was done in the spring, right after panfish had
spawned. The eggs were left high and dry hanging from
the brush and grass along the shoreline.
We certainly do not need a repeat performance of this.
Hopefully the fish have not spawned yet this year.
Here is where anglers could keep an eye on the shoreline
and report any above-water spawn to the Fish and Boat
Commission or Department of Environmental Protection.
While the public cannot control, nor should they control
the resources on private land, public land is an
entirely different matter. The public is the owner and
the politicians merely the caretakers. You must ask
yourself, are they taking good care of what you own?
Along the above lines or just thinking.
I don't remember my first dollar but I do remember my
first trout. I don't remember my income for 1965 but
remember an eight-point buck. I don't remember my hourly
rate for 1973 but do remember a quiet trout stream in
McKean County full of brook Trout. I don't remember how
much money was in my pocket that day four years ago as I
sat on the patio with my 94-year-old mother. I was
pointing to a Baltimore oriole in the apple tree and she
was thrilled to see it.
That was the last time we sat on the patio.
Do you remember such or do you remember the money?
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
Drilling sites may take away
precious hunting spots
George H. Block
August 8, 2010 Observer-Reporter
I think most readers would agree with me that the No. 1 thing
that would bring about a decline in hunter numbers is the loss
of a place to hunt.
Here in my home area of Eighty
Four we have witnessed a tremendous loss of open hunting land over
the last 20 years. With that in mind, I can't help but wonder how
many hunters will go to their deer stands this year only to find a
gas well or drilling operation there. Certainly with the thousands
of wells being drilled in Western Pennsylvania, some of them will
fall around someone's deer stand. When looking at this situation one
must consider that there is a 150-yard safety zone surrounding the
Also, to be considered is the
human and vehicle activity that could change game movement. When you
look at ponds built to store water, roadways for access and the
drill site itself, they do take up quite a bit of land.
On top of that, most drilling is
done in rural areas, where most hunting takes place. With all of
that in mind, hunters would do well to check their deer stand well
before the season.
Another interesting statistic
would involve the number of non-resident licenses sold this year.
Will there be a significant jump in sales? Remember many of these
men working on the drill sites are from Texas, Oklahoma and even
Canadian provinces. And they hunt.
'Pig launcher' located
near some of the newer wells