Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Pennsylvania Business Owner Charged with Dumping Wastewater

The state of Pennsylvania has filed criminal charges against a Greene County business owner for allegedly dumping millions of gallons of wastewater -- including Marcellus Shale drilling fluids -- into local streams.

The state Attorney General's office last week filed 98 criminal charges against Robert Allan Shipman and 77 against his company, Allan's Waste Water Service, for illegally dumping wastewater between 2003 and 2009.

"This was a calculated and long-running scheme to personally profit by illegally dumping wastewater, regardless of the potential for environmental damage," acting Attorney General Bill Ryan said. "Shipman is accused of orchestrating a scheme to dump waste products into streams, mine shafts and business properties across Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties."

According to grand jury testimony, Shipman allegedly told his drivers to make a "cocktail" by mixing various waste products together, both to hide the nature of the fluid and to increase the size of loads billed to customers.

According to the testimony, Allan's Waste Water Service hauled grease from restaurants and fast food chains, sludge from sewage treatment plants and production water from Marcellus Shale drilling operations. Shipman is accused of dumping the fluids in various creeks and ponds, as well as in several municipal treatment plants.

Christopher Blackwell, Shipman's attorney, did not return a call for comment from NGI's Shale Daily by press time, but he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Allan never did any of this personally as some of the witnesses accused him, nor did he ever instruct any of his drivers to improperly dispose of any wastewater."

If convicted on all charges, Shipman could face prison time as well as a $1.5 million fine, and his company could be on the hook for another $1.2 million. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for this Friday.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the American Petroleum Institute of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association jointly issued a statement saying they were "appalled" by the news.

"Illegal actions that threaten Pennsylvania's environment and waterways cannot be tolerated," the groups said. "If found guilty of these appalling acts, those charged must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The oil and natural gas industry speaks with one voice in condemning these unthinkable acts and blatant disregard for the environment."

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