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Pennsylvania Fines Rice $3.5M for Well Pad, Pipeline Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Rice Energy Inc. subsidiaries $3.5 million for violations at 10 well sites and six pipeline locations in Washington and Greene counties in the southwest part of the state.

The violations spanned several years and Rice has already paid all of the civil penalties. The company has either corrected or is working to correct the transgressions. DEP said the company signed seven separate enforcement documents.

Rice Spokesperson Julie Danvers called the agreement “amicable” and added that “we look forward to maintaining our collaborative partnership with the DEP, as we continue to safely and responsibly develop Pennsylvania’s natural resources.”

The violations include failing to obtain required permits, failing to maintain erosion and sedimentation controls, releasing wastewater into the ground and water, and failing to have a pre-operational inspection of a well site by DEP prior to drilling, among other things.

Leaks from an unpermitted wastewater impoundment and insufficient erosion/sediment controls and other violations at two well sites in Greene County were a part of the largest fine of more than $1.6 million. Failure to obtain a permit before earthmoving activities and failure to obtain a pre-operational inspection before drilling in Washington and Greene counties cost Rice more than $1.3 million.

Subsidiaries included in the enforcement actions are Rice Drilling B LLC, Rice Poseidon Midstream LLC and Rice Midstream Holdings LLC. Sites formerly owned by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. now owned and operated by Rice are also included.

The fine is large by Pennsylvania standards. Range Resources Corp. has paid the highest fine in the shale era of $4.15 million for violations at impoundments in Southwest Pennsylvania. 

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