The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has levied the highest fine possible against Chesapeake Energy for three separate incidents. A blow-out in Bradford County, which made national news, will cost Chesapeake more than $250,000 in fines and reimbursements. Last May Chesapeake got hit with a $1million dollar fine for contaminating the water of 16 households in Bradford County.
The Oklahoma City-based company will also pay for contaminating a high-quality designated stream in Potter County with sediment. The sediment also entered water treatment filters in Galeton Borough. The company paid $190,000 to repair the water treatment facility. In North Towanda, Bradford County, the DEP says Chesapeake also allowed sediment to enter Sugar Creek. For all three incidents the DEP fined Chesapeake a total of $565,000.
In a frack operation gone wrong, Chesapeake’s Atgas 2H well spilled ten thousand gallons of salty, chemical-laden fluid in Leroy Township last April. The frack water made its way into the Towanda Creek. Seven families were evacuated while Chesapeake workers and a private contractor from Texas took six days to bring the well under control.
]Kevin Sunday is a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.
“We’ve since worked with Chesapeake to insure a commitment that they will have local well control responders on site in the event that there’s any further incidents,” says Sunday.
The DEP says tests show no damage to the local groundwater. Chesapeake says no nearby private water wells were contaminated by the incident. But a November report issued by an arm of the Centers for Disease Control found high levels of salts and methane in a nearby residential water well. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says the contaminants reflect gas drilling, but it wasn’t clear whether the spill was the source of the salts and methane.
A statement released by the company says Chesapeake has cooperated with the DEP.
“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,” said Brian Grove, senior director of Corporate Development for Chesapeake’s Eastern Division.
Chesapeake also agreed to continued water testing and remediation at the sites.