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Pennsylvania Fines CNX, Cone Midstream For Pipeline Construction Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said on Monday that it has fined CNX Gas Company LLC and Cone Midstream Partners LP a total of $184,000 for failing to construct pipelines as approved by the agency.

Twenty pipelines owned by CNX and seven owned by Cone were found to be in violation of their permits. Cone was formed by Consol Energy Inc. and Noble Energy Inc. in 2014 to own and operate natural gas gathering assets in Pennsylvania and West Virginia (see Shale Daily, Sept. 25, 2014). CNX is a subsidiary of Consol.

DEP said its inspectors discovered that CNX's McQuay to Morris pipeline and its Morris Spur pipeline were not "constructed to the standards" in the company's erosion and sediment control general permits. Specifically, DEP said the inspection revealed that the pipelines were constructed outside the exact area detailed in the permit, or within the limit of disturbance. In another case, DEP said a gravel road and a pad for a valve were constructed but not identified in the permit application.

The agency said the companies acknowledged during a follow-up meeting that other pipelines were in violation of earthmoving beyond the boundaries of their permits. CNX was fined $139,000 and Cone was fined $45,000.

Consol said it self-reported a “majority” of the violations, which it added had “minimal to no environmental impacts” beyond the permitted scope of work.

Under the consent order and agreements, both companies have until Nov. 15 to complete a review of their pipelines. The companies will have 90 business days after DEP approves their plans to bring those pipelines into compliance. If other pipeline projects are found to be out of compliance, DEP said, the companies can add those to the consent order. Additional penalties could be added.

The agency said the companies have been working towards compliance at the sites in question, and Consol added that it is working closely with the agency to ensure compliance with all of its pipeline permits.

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