GLEN EASTON - Chesapeake Energy and other natural gas drillers are still working to abate a series of violations discovered across the Northern Panhandle by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Since October, the department lists several violations for Chesapeake in the local area that "have not been closed or abated." Among them are the imminent danger to persons, water supplies and sources violation regarding the Ray Baker pad in southern Marshall County. Last year, the department ordered Chesapeake to stop operating at the pad until the company fortified a significant land slip.
"The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has a robust enforcement program, so it's not unusual for a company to have some violations," said Stacey Brodak, senior director of corporate development for the Oklahoma City-based driller. "Chesapeake keeps working toward improvement and strives for zero violations."
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has suspended Chesapeake Energy from drilling for natural gas at the Ray Baker well pad in southern Marshall County while the company works to resolve violations at the pad that has been shut down since last year.
In order to resume operations at this particular well pad, the department is requiring Chesapeake to properly secure all well heads and install protective cages around them; remove the sediment and debris from the road and unnamed stream; reclaim all affected areas to ensure a stable slope; and install erosion and sediment control devices.
However, this is not the only violation Chesapeake has yet to abate that has taken place in the Northern Panhandle since October. Department records show other Marshall County unabated citations for failing to reclaim affected areas and install control devices; failing to prevent surface runoff; another violation for creating imminent danger; and a violation of water quality standards.
In Wetzel County, DEP records show two Chesapeake citations for failure to prevent surface runoff.
Department spokesman Thomas Aluise said the two Wetzel County violations are under review, but he declined to be more specific regarding the citations.
Outside the Northern Panhandle, the DEP shows three outstanding violations for Chesapeake that have been issued since October. There is one violation in Monongalia County for failing to prevent discharges that is under review by the department.
In Kanawha County, Chesapeake has received "extension for abatement" notices to allow the company more time to correct a pair of violations, one for polluting waters of the state and one for the improper containment of pollutants.
Those highlighted from the DEP website "have been covered in the media before. We are resolving all of these with the DEP, and the process takes time," Brodak said.
Chesapeake is the most active driller in northern West Virginia and the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States. However, the company is not alone in having DEP violations that still need corrected.
In Marshall County, Houston, Texas-based Gastar Exploration has a pair of unabated violations on record that the DEP has issued since October. These are for failing to replace soil and restore water quality, as well as failing to install a containment around a tank.
Lafayette, La.-based Stone Energy Corp. has an unabated water standards violation in Wetzel County.
Also in Wetzel County, Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. shows a violation for failing to "comply with requirements."
In Marshall County, the DEP shows a pair of unabated violations in the name of Chief Oil and Gas for "sediment and debris impacts to streams."
Last year, California-based Chevron took control of the former Chief and AB Resources operations in Marshall County. Chevron soon halted operations at many of these wells to improve safety at the sites.