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Thursday, February 9, 2012

DEP Fines Chesapeake Appalachia $565,000 for Multiple Violations

DEP Fines Chesapeake Appalachia $565,000 for Multiple Violations

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Chesapeake Appalachia LLC a total of $565,000 in civil penalties and reimbursement costs for erosion and sediment control violations, wetland encroachment violations and an April 2011 well control incident.

“The governor and I expect the highest standards to be met and when they are not, we take strong enforcement action,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “We will continue to be vigilant on that front. The protection of the state’s water is paramount.”

West Branch Township, Potter County

DEP fined Chesapeake $215,000 for a March 2011 incident in West Branch Township, Potter County, where sediment discharged into a stream classified as high quality. High-quality streams receive some of the highest levels of protection in the state, and operators are expected to ensure their work does not negatively affect them.

In late February and early March, heavy rain caused significant erosion to an access road and Chesapeake’s Beech Flats gas well pad, both of which lacked sufficient controls in place to prevent the run-off. As a result, significant amounts of sediment entered the Right Branch of Wetmore Run, a high-quality stream.

An inspection found that accelerated erosion had occurred at several spots on the access road and the well pad because the operator failed to construct adequate controls to prevent the run-off of sediment.

The sediment traveled downstream and impacted Galeton Borough Authority’s water treatment filters. Chesapeake has since paid $190,000 to the authority to repair and upgrade the water supply facility and has made assurances it will reimburse the authority any additional costs associated with this incident.

DEP issued a compliance order that required Chesapeake to cease all activity at the site that would disturb earth, such as road maintenance and grading; movement of rock, soil or earth; and activity associated with gas drilling and extraction. Chesapeake was also ordered to implement additional measures designed to lessen environmental impact and submit a revised erosion and sediment control plan.

Soon after that, the company installed silt fences, silt socks, gravel surfacing of the access road and a stormwater capture ditch, and it submitted the revised plan.

Follow-up inspections determined that the violations were corrected. The authority thanked DEP for taking immediate action.

Leroy Township, Bradford County

In addition, Chesapeake paid $190,000 as part of a consent order and agreement after the operator lost control of a well head during hydraulic fracturing of the Atgas 2H Well in Leroy Township, Bradford County, on April 19, 2011. Fluids from the well mixed with rainwater and entered a nearby unnamed tributary to Towanda Creek and Towanda Creek itself.

On April 20, DEP detected levels of total dissolved solids, chlorides and barium that were higher than background levels at the mouth of the tributary, where it enters Towanda Creek. Subsequent testing further downstream and on the following days showed these levels returned to normal background levels.

Chesapeake took two days to stop the flow from the well and four days beyond that to bring the well fully under control. At DEP’s request, Chesapeake suspended completion activities at well sites across the state for approximately three weeks while assessing its equipment’s integrity, containment mechanisms and procedures.

Chesapeake’s payment includes a $67,000 reimbursement for costs associated with the agency’s response. The company must also conduct further testing, using an independent laboratory, of five groundwater monitoring wells from the surrounding area to ensure there were no impacts to groundwater from the release. Samples of the five monitoring wells taken in July, August and October 2011 showed levels consistent with regional groundwater quality.

North Towanda Township, Bradford County

In connection with a third site, DEP fined Chesapeake $160,000 as part of a consent order and agreement resulting from violations in 2010 of impacting a wetland and allowing sediment to enter Sugar Creek in North Towanda Township, Bradford County. Part of a well pad was built in the wetland. It was constructed with extremely high, steep slopes which, after significant precipitation, caused additional sediment to slide further into the wetland and the nearby stream.

A series of site inspections in July 2010 found that the well pad had been constructed partially in a wetland and the construction activities deviated from the site’s erosion and sediment control plan, rendering the site vulnerable to erosion. DEP issued a notice of violation for encroaching on wetlands without a permit and failing to implement best management practices. A follow-up meeting also directed Chesapeake to develop a remediation plan.

By constructing the well pad in that way, the company filled a third of an acre of wetlands without authorization. There were additional temporary impacts to the wetland through erosion and tree clearing and in October 2010, heavy rains caused the middle portion of the pad’s fill slope to fail and sediment to enter Sugar Creek and an unnamed tributary, as well as further impact the nearby forested wetland.

In addition to paying the penalty, the company has removed the fill from the impacted wetland and must construct 2.55 acres of replacement wetlands. The company is also required to submit regular, detailed wetlands restoration monitoring reports.

Chesapeake’s actions constituted violations of the Oil and Gas Act, Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.

To view all the documents, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on “Regional Resources,” then “North-central Region” and "Community Information.”


Anonymous said...

wow shame on you Chesapeake got yourself into a little slammer... toe the line next time..

Anonymous said...

Too many regulations these days.

Anonymous said...

The DEP will have grant money to give out after they collect all the fines.

Anonymous said...

Hanus. Very hanus, Chesapeake.

Anonymous said...

Let's continue to chase companies out of Potter County to appease some left wingers.

Anonymous said...

When the state put those logs in the banks of some of the local high quality streams, they surely had to have discharged a lot of sediment into the streams. Plus, they left uncovered soil near the stream just waiting for the next rain to wash it into the creek. Oh wait, they can't fine themselves...

Anonymous said...

Poster 4:07, I continue to collect a royalty check every month, while you collect food stamps. Stop with the sour grapes comments.

Anonymous said...

The DEP and their stream projects are a huge waste of time and money! I have seen alot of them just wash out within a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Royalty checks and food stamps.... Aren`t they kinda the same thing ? Getting something for nothing ?

Anonymous said...

5:36 & 9:11; You don't know what you are talking about, now do You?

Anonymous said...

7:27 you must work for the state or your blind or a waste money on stupid sh&t democrat! I could show you 10 or more sites that are out washed out of place!

Anonymous said...

You rednecks make me feel smart. Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Poster 6:46, No, it is not the same. You actually have to work for a iving to pay property taxes, then one day, someone knock on your door to tell you that you have gold under your feet! Then you collect alot of money every month! Unlike people that have sour grapes and food stamps and so on, I am retired at 38 years old!