State issues fines against gas driller

The state Department of Environmental Protection has fined Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC, of Warren, $125,000 for two separate sets of violations in Lycoming County during 2012 and 2011.

“The agency’s Oil and Gas program assessed penalties for three separate spills in January 2012 at a Pennsylvania General Energy well pad in Cummings Township, and for excessive sediment discharges to Pine Creek and related violations in Watson Township between May and September 2011,” said John Ryder, DEP director of district oil and gas operations.

During hydraulic fracturing operations at the 729-C well pad, Pennsylvania General Energy had two brine spills from blender units and one diesel fuel spill between Jan. 6 and Jan. 15, 2012. The total volume of brine spilled was estimated at 8,200 gallons, while the diesel fuel spill was estimated at 89 gallons.

The well pad is located within the high-quality Pine Creek watershed, with the closest stream being an unnamed tributary to Ramsey Run. There was no evidence that any of the spills impacted the unnamed tributary.

DEP issued three notices of violation to PGE for violations of the Oil and Gas Act, Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Streams Law and state environmental regulations.

In order to remediate the three spills, PGE excavated more than 3,300 tons of contaminated soil and submitted a corrective action final report that DEP reviewed and approved in July 2012.

The 2011 violations were related to the installation of a temporary cofferdam in Pine Creek, made with limestone rock, to construct a water intake structure. DEP issued the company a water obstruction and encroachment permit for the project, but PGE failed to adhere to the permit requirements.

In addition, PGE failed to implement and maintain erosion and sediment control best management practices, which resulted in several excessive sediment discharges during the four-month construction period into Pine Creek, which is a high-quality, trout-stocked fishery.

DEP issued a notice of violation to PGE on May 20, 2011, citing violations of the clean streams law and state environmental regulations addressing waterway encroachments and earth disturbances.

Following multiple inspections during the summer months, an inspection in late September 2011 revealed that all previous violations had been properly corrected. In November 2011, DEP issued an amendment to PGE’s existing Erosion and Sediment Control permit for a nearby water line to also include the intake structure.