DEP Stops Drilling Operation in Harrison County

Two companies were issued six violations after drilling mud spilled into a stream.

The State Journal
28 March 2011

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has issued cease operations orders to two out-of-state companies who have been drilling wells in Harrison County.

The orders come after DEP inspectors found drilling mud that had spilled into nearby Indian Run, according to DEP officials.

The drilling site, known as "O. Rice", is run by Antero Resources Appalachian Corp, of Denver and Bronco Drilling Company of Edmond, Okla., DEP officials said. It is located about three miles north of Salem.

The incident was reported to the Office of Oil and Gas(OOG), on the morning of March 21.

Inspectors found the drilling mud in the stream, officials said. Officials also said that they did not see any evidence of a fish kill.

In addition to the cease operations orders, the DEP issued notices of violations to the companies, five to Antero and one to Bronco Drilling.

Antero's violations were: Failure to notify the OOG after a reportable discharge; failure to use every possible precaution to prevent the pollution of the waters of the state; failure to make adequate provision to prevent surface and underground water pollution; failure to construct or maintain a drilling site to confine all materials leaked or spilled in the drilling process; and allowing pollutants to flow into the waters of the state, according to a DEP news release.

Bronco's violation was: allowing pollutants to flow into the waters of the state, the DEP release went on to say.

Antero operations will be shut down until "the company can demonstrate to the OOG an understanding of the cause of the failure to contain materials on the site; the ability to reasonably contain any free liquids, including drilling fluids, cuttings and other wastes on the site and to prevent them from escaping the pad; submit a proposal for soil sampling and remediation to remove and dispose of any contaminated soil from the pad; submit a proposal for surface water sampling, including plans for containment and removal of any pollutants found; and submit a proposal for testing and monitoring all water wells within a 2,000-foot radius of the pad, or methods for groundwater testing and monitoring if no such water wells exist," the DEP release said.

The DEP told Bronco "to cease operations on all well pads in the state until the company developed a spill prevention plan for all current and future activities in the state."

On March 24, the DEP and Bronco reached an agreement after Bronco provided the spill prevention plan, fixed issues at its active drilling sites and agreed to pay a $15,000 administrative penalty. The company is now allowed to resume it's operations, but because Antero has not been allowed to, the Indian Run site is still idle.DEP officials said.