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Latest Fines in the Marcellus


Last month was not a good month for operators in the Marcellus as it relates to consequences for drilling activity.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined two operators this month for a total of $112,856 for wastewater spills.  The first spill happened last November in Bradford County and Talisman Energy is being fined $15,506 as a result.  The wastewater was from the Klein gas well pad and polluted a small, unnamed waterway.  It was determined that the 4,200 to 6,300 gallons of frac fluid was released when a pump failed and frac sand collected in a valve.  Talisman has since performed the DEP’s Act 2 process for spill cleanup, the DEP’s Act 2 being the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act that creates a framework for cleanup standards.

The second fine that was dished out last month was to Atlas Resources for a wastewater pit overfill last December in Washington County.  Atlas is to pay $97,350 to the DEP for the Cowden 17 gas well spill and has since rectified the problem although they failed to report it to the DEP.

Also last month, as a result of these types of situations, the DEP has placed into effect new regulations aimed at increasing environmental protection for waterways.  These new regulations include new Total Dissolved Solids standards, meaning fewer solids per liter of discharged water from gas drilling, and a 150-foot buffer for what Pennsylvania has deemed as high quality streams (approximately 20,000 miles of PA water ways).  The passing and enforcement of these new regulations are a follow up to one of my previous blogs, Wheels set in motion with regulations aimed at protecting waterways from drilling wastewater.

For more information visit the Marcellus Regulatory, Environmental Info folder in the Unconventional Updates in DI’s DNA.

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Justin Birmingham

Justin Birmingham is a Research Analyst at Drillinginfo. He creates proprietary research studies, works with statistical models and manages datasets for the DI Analytics team. Justin earned his Bachelor of Science from Texas State University – San Marcos.