The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week said it has collected a $1.7 million fine from the now-defunct Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 unconventional well sites in Greene and Clearfield counties.
ECA and Greylock Production LLC signed a consent order and agreement with DEP in November, agency spokesperson Lauren Fraley said. DEP fined the company for violations that included failure to properly contain fluids in onsite pits; unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater; unauthorized disposal of residual waste; failure to restore pits and well sites; and operating waste storage, treatment and transfer facilities without permits.
The announcement comes less than two months after Greylock acquired ECA. Greylock is backed by a $400 million private equity commitment from ArcLight Capital Partners LLC and is managed by some of the same executives that ran ECA.
Greylock spokesperson Jennifer Vieweg said that while the company only recently acquired the assets, it is satisfied with the settlement. Management is committed to being “a good corporate neighbor” and “operating safely,” she said.
DEP said after it discovered a substantial leak at a well site in Greene County that “killed vegetation, impacted groundwater and one natural spring used for drinking water,” it launched an investigation in 2015 that concluded last year. The investigation uncovered leaking pits and wastewater impoundments at several unconventional well sites and “forensically demonstrated ECA’s mismanagement of drilling, flowback and produced fluids,” DEP said.
The agency said its investigation revealed that ECA transferred drilling fluids from well sites long after the last wells were completed at each one, making them “unlawful waste transfer” stations. The DEP said fluids stored in temporary onsite pits for more than nine months after drilling is completed violates site restoration regulations.
Waste fluids have been removed from all of the sites, but the consent order establishes a schedule to remove sludge and other byproducts in onsite pits where they still exist at five locations. Remediation work is ongoing and ECA’s agreement with the state stipulates additional penalties if Greylock fails to comply with its obligations.