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Rice Energy fined $3.5 million for wellsite and pipeline violations

drill rig cows

Kim Paynter/ WHYY / WHYY/Newsworks.org


State environmental regulators announced $3.5 million in penalties against gas driller Rice Energy, for violations related to its well sites and pipelines.
The state Department of Environmental Protection says the issues spanned several years and included failures to secure proper permits, maintain erosion and sedimentation controls, and wastewater releases.
“Minimizing the impacts that drilling activity has on Pennsylvania waterways is a key part of responsible development,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a statement. “While many of these violations have been corrected and remediated, they should have not happened in the first place. DEP will continue to hold responsible companies that act without permits and violate the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth.”
Here are the list of fines, from DEP’s announcement:

  • $1,633,550 for leaks from an unpermitted wastewater impoundment and insufficient erosion and sediment controls, failure to stabilize the well site, and other violations at two well sites in Jackson and Center Townships, Greene County.
  • $1,314,275 for failure to obtain a permit before earthmoving activities, failure to obtain a pre-operational inspection prior to drilling, and multiple erosion and sediment control violations in Washington and Greene counties.
  • $437,100 for erosion and sediment control violations and a well casing violation at sites in Washington and Greene counties.
  • $97,852 for failing to obtain a permit for a culvert, illegally discharging into a waterway, and erosion and sediment control violations at sites in Washington and Greene counties.
  • $14,850 for slope failure and sediment discharge outside of the permitted limit of disturbance at sites in Greene County.
  • $11,750 for violations associated with the company’s failure to maintain erosion and sedimentation controls in Washington County.
  • $35,075 for well site stabilization, casing, and road construction violations in Greene County.

The penalties include subsidiaries Rice Drilling B LLC, Rice Poseidon Midstream LLC, and Rice Midstream Holdings LLC. They also include sites previously owned by Alpha Shale Resources, LP, which are now owned and operated by Rice.
“We’re pleased to have reached an amicable agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” says Rice spokeswoman Kimberly Price in an email. “We look forward to maintaining our collaborative partnership with the DEP, as we continue to safely and responsibly develop Pennsylvania’s natural resources.”
The Department says Rice has paid all civil penalties and has either corrected or is on track to correct the violations at its sites.

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