Chesapeake Fined $600,000 in W.Va. Waterfall Case
3 December 2012
WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday fined Chesapeake
Appalachia $600,000 for destroying a Wetzel County waterfall while
constructing a well pad.
U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr. also ordered the
company, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, to spend two years on
supervised release during a sentencing hearing in Wheeling.
In October, the company pleaded guilty to three violations of the
federal Clean Water Act. It was accused of illegally discharging
60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into Blake Fork at least three
times in December 2008, then spreading that material to build a
Inspectors found the problem in 2010.
Chesapeake Appalachia was fined $200,000 per violation.
Under the plea agreement, separate violations for impoundments in
Marshall and Wetzel counties will be addressed with civil
penalties instead of criminal charges.
"The defendants knowingly and repeatedly obliterated sensitive
wetlands," said David G. McLeod, Jr., special agent in charge of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency'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
Chesapeake Appalachia said it has removed the gravel and restored
the site in cooperation with the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of
"Chesapeake Appalachia remains fully committed to regulatory
compliance and promptly instituted additional training and
oversight to help ensure that our regulatory obligations are met,"
the company said in a statement.
The sentencing came the same day that U.S. Attorney William
Ihlenfeld announced the formation of a task force to monitor
companies' compliance with environmental laws as they extract
natural gas and other resources.
Members of the West Virginia Natural Resource Watch Group will
include representatives from federal, state and local agencies.
"It's critical that we keep a close eye on the energy extraction
that is going on all around us," Ihlenfeld said in a news release.
"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."
He said the task force will identify suspected violations of
environmental laws, coordinate prosecution efforts and provide
training. It also will promote information sharing and consistent
communication among law enforcement and regulatory agencies.
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