PA DEP Collects $147,250 Penalty from Rice Drilling B LLC

Erosion & Sedimentation Violations in Greene County plus DEP Found Rice had Hundreds of Other Violations, Including Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest Blog | October 6, 2022

On October 6, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it has assessed and collected a $147,250 civil penalty from Rice Drilling B LLC for erosion and sedimentation violations that were documented in 2019 and 2020 at Rice’s Mac well site in Whitely Township, Greene County.

According to DEP’s eFACT database, a DEP inspection report on January 9, 2019 found Rice failed to implement post construction management and erosion and sedimentation best management practices (BMPs) in accordance with its permit for constructing and maintaining the well site. 

The violations continued as noted in DEP inspection reports on February 27, 2019 and March 11, 2020.

As a result, three land slides developed at the well site causing accelerated erosion and soil to go into three separate rain gardens. 

Rice attempted to make repairs but did not fully remediate the issue nor did it fully implement erosion and sedimentation BMPs, resulting in the development of a fourth slide allowing sediment-laden water and soil to move outside of the permitted area. 

As of January 27, 2021, Rice repaired and stabilized the slides and the well site was otherwise in compliance. 

Rice has paid a $147,250 civil penalty into the Oil and Gas Program Fund.

DEP’s eFACTS database shows Rice Drilling B LLC received an “expedited” erosion and sedimentation stormwater general permit on January 31, 2017 and another on June 12, 2017 for the Mac well site.

DEP denied a third “expedited” permit on April 25, 2019 and was then issued an “expedited” erosion and sedimentation permit on December 2, 2021.

DEP’s Oil & Gas Compliance database shows DEP inspections found hundreds of violations at Rice Drilling B LLC unconventional and conventional oil and gas sites between January 1, 2019 and October 1, 2022 including multiple violations like–

— Abandoning wells without plugging them

— Discharge of drilling wastewater into the ground

— Failure to collect and properly dispose of drilling wastewater

— Failure to preventing the venting of natural gas to the atmosphere

— Failure to “drill with due diligence”

— Failure to submit well integrity reports

— Failure to submit production reports

— Incomplete emergency response plans

NewsClips:

— Williamsport Sun Outdoors: New Clean Water Violations On Loyalsock Should Spark Change, Improved Hellbender Protection – By John Zaktansky, Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper

— Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper: New Clean Water Violations On Loyalsock Creek From Natural Gas Pipeline/Water Withdrawal Construction Should Spark Change, Improved Hellbender Protection

— StateImpactPA – Rachel McDevitt: PA Needs To Finish Conventional Oil & Gas Methane Emissions Regulations By Dec. 16 Or Face Highway Funds Sanctions, EPA Says 

Related Articles This Week:

— DEP Issued NOVs To Conventional Oil & Gas Companies For Abandoning 55 Wells Without Plugging Them During September Alone, A Dramatic Increase In New Well Abandonments  [PaEN]

— Environmental Groups Raise Serious Compliance Issues With Olympus Energy– Over 600 Violations On 13 DEP Permits– In Comments On Proposed Shale Gas Drilling Pad In Allegheny County  [PaEN]

— DEP: PA Fracking Operations Sent Nearly 236,000 Cubic Feet Of Radioactive TENORM Waste To Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities For Disposal In 2021 – 811,070 since 2016  [PaEN]

— Fall Visitors To Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Areas Urged To Report Illegal Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater  [PaEN]

— Washington County Community Meeting Updates Residents On PA Health & Environment Studies, Discusses Health Impacts Of Shale Gas Development  [PaEN]

[Posted: October 6, 2022]  PA Environment Digest | Source

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