The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that CNX Gas Company LLC (CNX) has paid two civil penalty assessments totaling $200,000 for violations at well sites in Richhill Township, Greene County.
On September 18, 2019, approximately 40 barrels, or 1,680 gallons, of production fluid breached secondary containment and discharged onto the ground at CNX’s RHL 71 and RHL 87 well site. CNX attempted to make repairs to the containment, removed any fluids it had access to, and established a plan to monitor for offsite impacts. However, CNX postponed full remediation nearly 70 days due to its ongoing hydraulic fracturing activities. Remediation included removal of spilled fluids and nearly 1,400 tons of contaminated soil underneath the containment and hydraulic fracturing equipment.
On January 23, 2021, approximately 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, of production fluid discharged onto the ground due to an equipment failure. And on April 22, 2021, another equipment failure led to the discharge of 40 gallons of production fluid onto the ground. By March 18, 2021, CNX had removed standing fluids and contaminated soil caused by the two incidents.
On December 2, 2019, approximately 30 gallons of production fluid breached secondary containment and flowed into a sediment basin during hydraulic fracturing operations at CNX’s RHL 4 well pad. CNX postponed removal of contaminated soil until hydraulic fracturing was completed, and the discharge continued for days. As of January 17, 2020, CNX had removed nearly 2,000 tons of contaminated soil from the site.
“Delays like these are unacceptable. DEP expects, and the regulations require, prompt reporting and cleanup of spills and that operators will take measures to prevent future incidents,” said DEP southwest district oil and gas manager Dan Counahan.
CNX violated state laws and regulations by failing to control and properly dispose of production fluids and by allowing unauthorized discharge of those fluids onto the ground and into waters of the commonwealth.
DEP assessed and CNX paid a $125,000 civil penalty assessment for violations at the RHL 71 and RHL 87 well site and a $75,000 civil penalty assessment for violations at the RHL 4 well pad site into the Well Plugging Fund.