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DEP Fines Chesapeake Appalachia $565,000 for Multiple Violations

February 9, 2012

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