Yesterday the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center released a new study documenting 3,355 violations by gas operators in the Marcellus over the last four years. Between 2008 and 2011 energy companies drilled a total of 4,596 new wells in Pennsylvania and, says Erika Staaf of PennEnvironment, they “are either unable or unwilling to comply with basic environmental laws.”
The research and policy center has called on state leaders to halt additional shale gas drilling until operators can demonstrate that they can extract gas in a manner that is safe for the environment and public health – “a threshold that, to date, they have not met,” says Staaf.
As if to underscore the gravity of this situation, today the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that the agency has fined Chesapeake Appalachia $565,000 for multiple violations:
- $215,000 for a March 2011 incident in West Branch Township, Potter County, where sediment discharged into a stream classified as high quality
- $190,000 as part of a consent order and agreement after the operator lost control of a well head during hydraulic fracturing of the Atgas 2H Well in Leroy Township, Bradford County, on April 19, 2011. Fluids from the well mixed with rainwater and entered a nearby unnamed tributary to Towanda Creek and Towanda Creek itself.
- $160,000 as part of a consent order and agreement resulting from violations in 2010 of impacting a wetland and allowing sediment to enter Sugar Creek in North Towanda Township, Bradford County.
You can download the Chesapeake consent orders here
You can read PennEnvironment’s study here