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Pennsylvania Fines Chesapeake $1.4M For 2011 Landslide

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said Monday that a Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiary has agreed to pay a $1.4 million fine for violations of state law related to a landslide at one of its former wells in Greene County.

DEP said it fined Chesapeake Appalachia LLC for violations of the state's Oil and Gas Act, Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachments Act. The company's former Stinger 8H natural gas well in Aleppo Township, about 67 miles south of Pittsburgh, was linked to a September 2011 landslide that impacted seven unnamed tributaries. DEP said sediment from the slide filled more than a quarter-mile of streams below the well pad.

DEP Director for Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said Greene County and nearby Washington County -- two areas that host heavy shale development -- are some of the state's most "landslide prone" areas, adding that "oil and gas operators must understand the landslide potential and exercise proper oversight in the design and construction of well sites to prevent slides from occurring." DEP said that while Chesapeake immediately began efforts to temporarily stabilize the site, it was not able to complete permanent stabilization until July 2014.

DEP said it monitored those efforts, but it added that early on neither the agency nor Chesapeake could agree on actions to restore the streams impacted by the slide. DEP said it accepted the company's stabilization plan and permanent work began in September 2013.

Chesapeake Appalachia has signed a consent order and agreement that provides for the restoration work to be finished. While DEP said much of the work is done, the consent order stipulates that the company must remove the remaining sediment and stabilize the banks of the tributaries by Dec. 31. It has until Sept. 30, 2016 to complete its restoration of the affected sites. If the company fails to do so, DEP said additional penalties would be assessed.

The Stinger 8H well is now owned by Rice Energy Inc. following a July 2014 deal in which that company agreed to acquire 22,000 net acres from Chesapeake in Greene County for $336 million (see Shale DailyJuly 7, 2014). Chesapeake spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said the company remains “focused on addressing legacy issues” and working with state regulators.

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