DEP Settles Lawsuit over Drilling Mud

Company must pay $38K fine, clean up

Morgantown Dominion Post
7 February 2013
By David Beard

The Department of Environmental Protection announced a settlement with M3 Appalachia Gathering for drilling mud spills in the Monongahela River, Jakes Run and Dunkard Creek.

Along with remediation actions outlined in the consent order, the proposed settlement — made public Wednesday — includes a fine of $37,830.

M3 Appalachia Gathering is an affiliate of Texas-based Momentum Energy and operates a natural gas pipeline gathering system — called the Appalachia Gathering System (AGS) in Monongalia, Marion and Harrison counties, and Greene and Washington counties in Pennsylvania. Momentum has contracts to serve Chesapeake Appalachia and Statoil.

The proposed settlement won’t be final until a 30-day comment period concludes March 10.

According to the DEP documents:

DEP received notice of a drilling mud spill into the Mon River in Marion County on May 1, 2012. Momentum received a Notice of Violation and began remediation actions.

During a June 5 inspection, DEP observed drilling mud in Jakes Run and issued another violation notice. Momentum again began corrective actions.

On June 9, inspectors observed mud in Tevebaugh Creek in Marion County and issued another violation. Momentum began corrective actions.

On Aug. 31, DEP received notice of a drilling mud release into Dunkard Creek. It issued a violation and corrective actions began.

On Oct. 2, DEP responded to another mud release into Dunkard Creek, with the same consequences.

Within 20 days of the effective date of the consent order, Momentum must submit a full corrective plan and timeline.

The $37,830 civil penalty must be paid within 30 days of the effective date of the order. As part of the agreement, Momentum does not admit to any factual or legal determinations made by the DEP.

Jim Roberts, Momentum vice president for Environment, Health and Safety, said everything was corrected before a November meeting at DEP’s Charleston office. Everything is now stabilized and they are monitoring it to make sure everything is back to normal.

Roberts said that in some instances, a contractor’s failure to follow procedures led to the incident. Momentum doesn’t like it when these accidents happen, but they have responded accordingly. They’ve taken the additional safety step of now observing a contractor’s site work before deciding whether to hire the company.

“We do feel like we’re a very responsible company,” Roberts said. “We do take responsibility and correct things and want to do things right.”