Trans Energy will pay a $3 million pollution fine and restore portions of streams and wetlands at fifteen sites in West Virginia that were polluted by the company’s unauthorized discharge of dredge or fill material.
Trans Energy, an oil and natural gas company, will pay a penalty of $3 million to be divided equally between the federal government and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The Clean Water Act requires a company to obtain a permit from Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to discharging dredge or fill material into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters of the United States. Federal officials alleged that the company did not have such a permit.
The company will reconstruct impacted aquatic resources or otherwise address impacts at each of the fifteen sites, provide appropriate compensatory mitigation for impacts to streams and wetlands, and implement a comprehensive compliance program to ensure future compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and applicable state law.
Among other requirements, the company will work to ensure that all aquatic resources are identified prior to starting work on any future projects in West Virginia, and that appropriate consideration is given at the design stage to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources.
It is estimated that Trans Energy will spend more than $13 million to complete the restoration and mitigation work required by the consent decree.
The federal government and the WVDEP allege that the company impounded streams and discharged sand, dirt, rocks and other materials into streams and wetlands without a federal permit in order to construct well pads, impoundments, road crossings and other facilities related to natural gas extraction.
The government alleges that the violations impacted approximately 13,000 linear feet of stream and more than an acre of wetlands.
Filling wetlands illegally and damming streams can result in serious environmental consequences.
Streams, rivers and wetlands benefit the environment by reducing flood risks, filtering pollutants, recharging groundwater and drinking water supplies, and providing food and habitat for aquatic species.
EPA discovered the violations in 2011 and 2012 through information provided by WVDEP and the public, and through routine field inspections.
In summer 2014, the company conducted an internal audit and ultimately disclosed to EPA alleged violations at eight additional locations, which are also being resolved through this Consent Decree.
The settlement also resolves alleged violations of state law brought by the WVDEP.