Chesapeake Still Dealing On Filling Streams

NEW MARTINSVILLE – Chesapeake Energy is still working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to resolve the company’s allegedly unauthorized filling of streams and waterfall removal in Wetzel County.

“We have applied for the necessary state permits to conduct the restoration work,” said Matt Sheppard, senior director-corporate development and government affairs for Chesapeake, noting the EPA had approved the company’s remediation plan. “Pursuant to the EPA-approved restoration plan, the work is expected to be completed within 60 days of obtaining all necessary permits.”

EPA officials said in December that Chesapeake needed to supply restoration and remediation plans for the work in Wetzel and Marshall counties. In November, EPA officials issued four separate “Order for Compliance,” citing the natural gas driller for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act from January 2007 until November.

According to the orders, EPA has the ability to fine Chesapeake as much as $200,000 per day for the work, which included the alleged removal of a waterfall to create a gravel road in the stream channel of Blake Fork, about 2.4 miles north of the intersection of W.Va. 89, near Proctor.

Blake Fork and three other streams affected by Chesapeake’s drilling activities are tributaries of Fish Creek, which flows into the Ohio River.

Each of the four orders notes at the end that fines of up to $50,000 per day may be imposed if Chesapeake does not follow the instructions, hence the possibility of $200,000 in fines each day.

The compliance orders compel Chesapeake to remove the fill and restore the streams and wetlands “to pre-disturbance conditions” and “requires mitigation for the environmental harm which was caused by the unlawful discharge to waters of the United States.”

EPA spokeswoman Donna Heron said the agency would have no comment about the ongoing situation with Chesapeake.

Chesapeake has been working in Wetzel and Marshall counties for a few years. During this period, Chesapeake allegedly impounded an unnamed tributary to Laurel Run between January 2007 and December 2009. The stream was located on David Evick’s property, roughly 2,000 feet east of Greenfield Ridge in Cameron.

Another one of the EPA’s orders against the driller involved constructing the Gordon Stansberry well pad about 2.2 miles north of W.Va. 89, near New Martinsville. This project also included the burial of an underground pipeline.

The final citation is for building the Chesapeake “B” well pad, along with the widening of Lynn Camp Road, also located north of W.Va. 89.

Wetzel County Action Group member Bill Hughes said the group is still waiting to see true remediation from the driller.

“They haven’t done much as far as I can tell,” he said.