Chesapeake Energy Unit Slapped with $600,000 Criminal Fine

Chesapeake Appalachia was sentenced to pay a fine of $600,000 and was placed on supervised release for a period of two years after pleading guilty to obliterating a natural waterfall as part of its hydraulic fracturing operations in West Virginia.

In October, Chesapeake pled guilty to three violations of the Clean Water Act, admitting that it discharged sixty tons of crushed stone and gravel into Blake Fork on at least three different occasions in December of 2008.

Chesapeake also admitted that after discharging the stone and gravel that it then spread the material in the stream to create a roadway for the purpose of improving access to a site associated with Marcellus Shale drilling activity in Wetzel County, West Virginia.

“The defendants knowingly and repeatedly obliterated sensitive wetlands,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in West Virginia. “Companies and their managers who try to skirt the law to save money undermine our efforts to protect the public and the environment. Make no mistake, they will be vigorously prosecuted.”

In response to citizen complaints and other information, the EPA has conducted a series of inspections at sites operated by Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC in northern West Virginia.

As a result of those inspections, the EPA has issued eleven administrative compliance orders.

“It’s critical that we keep a close eye on the energy extraction that is going on all around us,” said U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld. “The economic impact that it’s having on our area is wonderful but we must make sure that our natural resources are not compromised and that future generations have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.”

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