US shale gas company fined over $1 million
Chesapeake Energy has been fined almost $ 1,088,000 for two instances of contaminating water supplies at its shale gas drilling sites.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) investigated complaints from residents in Bradford County about the private water well.
It found that natural gas had leaked into the groundwater because of inadequate well casing and cementing in shallow zones. As a result, 16 families' drinking water supplies were contaminated.
DEP secretary Mike Krancer said: "It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment, take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with our regulations, and that their actions do not risk public health and safety or the environment.
"The water well contamination fine is the largest single penalty DEP has ever assessed against an oil and gas operator.
"Natural gas drilling presents a valuable opportunity for Pennsylvania and the nation.
"But, with this opportunity comes responsibilities that we in Pennsylvania expect and insist are met; we have an obligation to enforce our regulations and protect our environment."
Chesapeake Energy was also fined in a separate action after condensate separator tanks caught fire, at another site in Avella, Washington County.
Three subcontractors working on-site were injured and the blow-out caused wastewater to flow into a nearby creek tributary.
The accident happened during the testing and collecting of fluid from wells on a drill site in Avella, Washington County.
The company has agreed to take measures to prevent further water contamination and to remediate the contaminated water supplies.
This latest incident will increase the controversy over the safety and environmental impacts of shale gas drilling.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the UK Energy and Climate Change Committee are currently investigating the practice of shale gas drilling. Alison Brown