By Casey Junkins
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — Facing charges of violating the federal Clean Water Act at 27 separate locations in West Virginia – including eight in Wetzel County and six in Marshall County – Chesapeake Appalachia will settle with $9.7 million worth of fines and environmental restoration costs.
Chesapeake Appalachia is the local operating division of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States.
The company is the most active among several working in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle – and is the only fracker with active operations in Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties.
Under the terms of the agreement, Chesapeake will spend an estimated $6.5 million to restore the 27 damaged sites, while it will also pay a civil penalty of $3.2 million. The settlement also resolves alleged violations of state law brought by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, so Mountain State regulators will receive half of the civil penalty, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Wetlands and streams serve important roles in the aquatic ecosystem by supporting aquatic life and wildlife. Wetlands also play a valuable role in recharging our groundwater and drinking supplies, and reducing flood risks,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin Thursday in announcing the agreement. “This case sends a clear message that EPA and other federal and state regulatory agencies will do what is necessary to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and to protect these valuable resources and the health of our communities…”