A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to fine an energy company for a 2010 fire could be the first time federal and state regulators have levied fines for the same incident in the Marcellus Shale.

The EPA said Thursday it has fined Atlas Resources LLC $84,500 to settle alleged air and hazardous chemical violations at a natural gas well in Avella, which is in Washington County’s Independence Township.

According to the consent agreement between EPA and Atlas, inspectors said the fire started while Atlas was developing the Cowden #10H well. The well had been fracked and was in a period of flowback when a spark from a light generator ignited vapors from a condensate pit. The fire then spread to a nearby flowback tank containing condensate entrained within the flowback fluid.

As part of the EPA’s investigation into the Cowden #10H fire, inspectors found similar setups at eight other Atlas wells in Hopewell and Cross Creek townships, which are also in Washington County. The company has since agreed to shut in the wells to perform an audit and is working with the EPA to ensure compliance with the agency’s new source performance standards and national emission standards.

According to DEP records, the state agency on Nov. 9, 2011 also fined Atlas $80,000 for the fire. The fines were for failure to maintain a two-foot freeboard in an impoundment and for failure to implement a preparedness, prevention and contingency plan.

DEP spokesman John Poister told NGI’s Shale Daily his agency believes it is the first time a company has been fined by federal and state regulators for the same incident. “At least as far as Marcellus drilling is concerned in Pennsylvania, we believe it is,” Poister said Friday. “We’ve done some checking and as far as we know, at least for a violation involving a Marcellus facility, we think this would be the first.”

Poister added that the EPA was well within its rights to levy the second fine. “Obviously, they’ve done it,” he said. “They are an environmental protection agency just like we are. If there is an egregious enough violation that they feel they need to enforce, of course they can do it.”