DEP fines Chesapeake $565,000
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HARRISBURG -- The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a $565,000 fine to gas driller Chesapeake Appalachia over violations at three of the company's sites last year, including its Bradford County well blowout.
The fine announcement this morning comes a day after Pennsylvania state legislators approved a significant increase to penalties for environmental violations and boosted the department's authority for revoking permits.
Chesapeake's violations spanned from March to July, and involved improper erosion controls in Potter County, encroachment on a Bradford County wetland, and the discharge of hydraulic fracturing fluid into an unnamed tributary near the Leroy Township blowout site.
The fine includes $67,000 to reimburse DEP for its response to the April blowout. During the four days it took to regain complete control of the well, agency employees set up a command center in a nearby municipal building to oversee the emergency efforts.
"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 in a statement. "We will continue to be vigilant on that front. The protection of the state???s water is paramount."
Chesapeake officials said that in response to the incidents, they have identified ways to improve their operations.
"Chesapeake worked proactively with all appropriate regulatory agencies throughout the response and analysis of these incidents to achieve compliance, identify and implement operational improvements and ensure proper resolution," company spokesman Brian Grove said in a statement.
The fine comes less than a year after Chesapeake was issued the largest penalty that DEP has issued to an oil or gas driller. The company paid $900,000 for contaminating private water supplies in Bradford County for improper well casing and another $188,000 over the Avella tank fire that injured three workers.
First Published February 9, 2012 12:00 am