Well Pad Suffers New Slip

GLEN EASTON – Because of another soil slip at the Ray Baker well pad in southern Marshall County, Chesapeake Energy is still trying to meet West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection requirements to resume operations.

Citing an “imminent danger to persons,” the DEP suspended Chesapeake from drilling and fracking at the pad last year. The company hoped environmental regulators would release the site along Valley Run Road from suspension last month after state inspectors evaluated the pad.

However, another setback caused by an additional Nov. 1 slip has Chesapeake still working to satisfy the DEP.

“There has been an additional small slip on the location. There is no threat to people or the environment from this slip,” Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said, noting remediation work has been ongoing since 2011.

“Throughout the process, we have kept the DEP fully informed of our approach and progress at this location – and we remain committed to continuous improvement in all of our processes,” she added.

The environmental department originally cited Chesapeake for “pollution of the waters of the state” at the Baker site in February 2011. Additional citations for, among other violations, creating an “imminent danger” at the site came in October 2011. The slip also forced a person to relocate because of the danger to his home.

In order to resume operations at the pad, the department is requiring Chesapeake to properly secure all well heads; apply for new drilling permits for the three wells on the site, once the site is secure, in order to resume operations; submit a site construction plan to be certified by a professional engineer that details all future plans for the site; submit a new reclamation plan; and once the DEP approves the plans, Chesapeake must submit a progress update every two weeks;

“This order does not relieve Chesapeake from any potential future obligations and/or responsibilities it may have pertaining to additional permits or approval that may be necessary in order to remove any potential sediment and debris from the stream,” stated James Martin in the order. He serves as chief of the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas.

This is the same pad the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required Chesapeake to repair because of slipping soil and “discharging pollutants into the adjacent stream.”