DEP Shuts Down Pennsylvania Gas Well Pre-construction Site Over Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Chesapeake Energy to cease work on a natural gas drilling well pad for failing to comply with regulations and impacting one of Galeton Borough Water Authority's water sources.  

The well pad was in the site-preparation phase, which occurs before any well construction or drilling activities take place.

In conducting site-preparation activities at the Beech Flats well pad in West Branch Township, Potter County, Chesapeake failed to implement the required erosion and sediment controls. As a result, a significant amount of sediment and silt discharged from the site into a stream that is a tributary to a water source serving Galeton's system. The Galeton Water Authority has been forced to use another permitted water source to serve its customers.

"In order to protect human health and the environment, we ordered Chesapeake to stop all construction activity," DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber said. "They must begin corrective action on this site immediately."

By March 29, the company must correct the existing violations at the site and review and revise, as appropriate, its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to prevent future damage. DEP will not permit Chesapeake to resume construction at the site until all terms of the order are met.

After a routine site inspection March 8 and a March 10 meeting with Chesapeake, DEP issued a notice of violation for several infractions of the Clean Streams Law and Oil and Gas Act. The company did not respond to the notice. During follow-up inspections March 21 and 22, staff discovered the additional violations and impacts that resulted in the March 22 order.

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