Pennsylvania regulators on Tuesday fined Chesapeake Energy Corp. $1.1 million for natural gas drilling violations, the largest penalty ever in the state's rapidly expanding Marcellus Shale bonanza.
Under a consent order signed Monday with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Chesapeake will pay $900,000 for contaminating the private water supplies of 16 residences in Bradford County in northern Pennsylvania.
Chesapeake, the largest Marcellus Shale operator, will also pay a $188,000 fine for a Feb. 23 fire at its drilling site in Avella, Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania."
Considering Chesapeake's CEO got a $75 million bonus last year on $9.7 billion in revenue and $1.7 billion in profits, $1.1 million is a misquito bite. And it was a fine. It didn't go to the residents.
"The DEP blamed improper concrete casings of several wells for allowing natural gas to seep into drinking-water supplies. In one instance, gas visibly bubbled to the surface of the Susquehanna River. The incidents occurred in Tuscarora, Terry, Monroe, Towanda, and Wilmot Townships.
Two Bradford County residents whose wells were cited in the consent agreement said they believed the contamination was more extensive than methane, which is not known to cause health problems. They suspect that chemicals are also polluting the aquifer.
"We're sick all the time," said Michael Phillips, who lives on Paradise Road in Terry Township, where (DEP Secretary) Mike Krancer visited some of the residents on Thursday during a tour through Bradford County.
Tuesday's announcement surprised Sherry Vargson, whose Granville Township family has been drinking bottled water supplied by Chesapeake since the well on her 197-acre farm went foul last June. She said the DEP's agreement contains little help for her family."
A case of 24 X 16 oz bottled water is $4.49 at my local market. So Chesapeake's remediation for these poor people is to spend maybe $20 a week...