Chesapeake Appalachia pleads guilty to clean water act violations
Chesapeake Appalachia entered a plea of guilty to three violations of the Clean Water Act Friday.
Chesapeake was in Federal court facing these violations related to natural gas drilling activity in Northern West Virginia according to U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld.
These are three counts of 'unauthorized Discharge into a Water of the United States." The company admits to discharging 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into Black Fork on at least three different occasions in December of 2008. The company then used bulldozers to spread the 60 tons to develop access to the Hohman Pit in order to facilitate Marcellus Shale gas drilling activities.
According to a release The Clean Water Act, also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, prohibits the discharge of any pollutant from a point source into the waters of the United States without a permit.
They also say they spread that material in the stream to create a roadway to improve access to a Marcellus Shale drilling site in Wetzel County. Chesapeake is now facing a $600,000 fine and two years of probation.
Chesapeake Appalachia released a statement regarding the alleged violations. To read that statement, click here.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division.
Special Agent in charge of the EPA's criminal enforcement in West Virginia, David McLeod said in one instance the company obliterated a natural waterfall.
"Our nation's wetlands play a critical role in maintaining water quality, reducing flood damage, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife," McLeod said. "The defendant illegally filled at least three sensitive wetlands; in one instance obliterating a natural waterfall."
The parties have agreed that separate violations committed by Chesapeake and occurring in connection with impoundments constructed in Marshall and Wetzel counties would be addressed by civil penalties and not via criminal charges according to the release from Ihlenfeld.