Matches for: “Range Resources” …

DEP Assesses $8.9 million Civil Penalty Against Range Resources for Failure to Repair Leaking Gas Well

June 16, 2015 1:06 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa., June 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has notified Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, of Fort Worth, TX that it intends to assess an $8.9 million civil penalty against the company, and has directed Range Resources to prevent methane and other substances from escaping from a leaking gas well and polluting groundwater and a stream in Lycoming County.

On May 11, 2015, DEP ordered Range Resources to submit a plan to remediate the defectively cemented gas well. However, the company failed to submit a satisfactory plan that made necessary repairs to prevent further leaks and pollution.

“Today, we made it clear that we take seriously our responsibility to protect residents and Pennsylvania’s natural resources,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “Clean water is an important part of a strong economy and Range Resources owes it to the people of Lycoming County and surrounding areas to make the repairs necessary to immediately stop the discharge of natural gas to the waters.”

The $8.9 million civil penalty would be assessed under the Clean Streams Law and the 2012 Oil and Gas Act.

Drilling for the well took place in February and March of 2011, and fracking occurred in June 2011. Subsequent investigation revealed that methane contaminated the groundwater-fed wells of private water supplies, and a nearby stream.

Although Range Resources was issued a Notice of Violation in September 2013 for the leaking gas well, it still has not corrected the defective cement. Since that time, the private wells, a pond, and nearby streams have continued to show signs of gas migration, including increased turbidity, and the presence of iron, aluminum and manganese. Elsewhere in the area near the leaking well, foliage “dead spots” and gas escaping from the soil have been observed by the DEP.

DEP’s May 11, 2015 order cited Range Resources for not correcting the defective well, and ordered the company to submit and implement a plan to prevent the migration of gas or other fluids. Calling the continued gas migration “unlawful conduct and a public nuisance,” DEP gave Range Resources ten days to submit a remediation plan.

Range Resources submitted a plan that proposed putting the well into production as a means to resolve the gas migration. DEP rejected that plan because it did not include making necessary repairs and has now directed the company to remediate the well in a manner that immediately ceases the discharge of methane to ground and surface water.

“Range Resources has the responsibility to eliminate the gas migration that this poorly constructed well is causing,” said Quigley. “Refusing to make the necessary repairs to protect the public and the environment is not an option.”

Range Resources has appealed the May 11 order to Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board.

MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Lalo, 717-787-1323

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dep-assesses-89-million-civil-penalty-against-range-resources-for-failure-to-repair-leaking-gas-well-300100011.html

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(UPDATED) Fire at Range Resources Well in North Strabane Reportedly Caused by Mechanical Malfunction

Non one was injured Wednesday in a large fire at a well site in North Strabane Township, Washington County, operated by Range Resources – a blaze that company officials have said was likely caused by a mechanical malfunction.

“I just spoke with Dennis Degner, vice president of operations at Range Resources. I asked him about the status of the fire at a Range Resources’ well site in North Strabane tonight. He assured me that it was under control and that, according to the information he has received, it was a mechanical malfunction that caused the fire,” Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, said.

She also expressed her thanks to the first responders who successfully contained the fire, as well as to Range Resources officials – in advance.

“I thank Range Resources, in advance, for (its) thorough investigation into this incident,” Bartolotta said. “I look forward to receiving more information as investigation unfolds.”

A voice mail left for North Strabane Fire Department was not immediately returned. Working for more details and photos – but until then, here are the local media reports that have been published so far on the incident:

Here is the most thorough report, from the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington.

Here is the WPXI report.

Here is the WTAE report.

Here is the WJPA report.

Here is the Tribune-Review report.

Editor’s Note: Have info or photos? Email them to me at amandabgillooly@gmail.com.

Range Resources, DEP Reach $1.75 Million Settlement Over Water Withdrawl Records

Range_Resources_Logo

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has entered into a $1.75 million dollar settlement agreement with Southpointe-based Range Resources for failure to keep proper water withdrawal records and for exceeding the amount of water withdrawn under an approved DEP Water Management Plan.

Under the state’s Oil and Gas Act, Range was required to have the approved Water Management Plan covering the company’s withdrawal of water from state waterways for use in natural gas drilling. DEP approved Range’s WMP in July 2009.

The company did not adhere to their plan. From July 2009 to February 2014, Range did not record daily maximum water withdrawal and instantaneous maximum withdrawal rates, as required.

Under their WMP, Range was also required to report water withdrawal rates electronically to the Department’s Water Use Database System. The information provided by the company was often different than or not supported by existing records.

The company has since changed its withdrawal, monitoring and reporting practices so that they meet the requirements of its WMP and the law. The company has also corrected the information previously submitted to WUDS.

According to the terms of the settlement, Range will pay a fine of $800,000 and will fund almost $950,000 toward the rehabilitation, expansion, and operation of the Hamilton Abandoned Mine Treatment System in Findlay Township, Allegheny County. The project will be implemented through a public-private partnership consisting of the Raccoon Creek Watershed Association, the Independence Conservancy, Penn’s Corner Conservancy Charitable Trust, Washington and Allegheny County Conservation Districts, two local landowners, and BioMost, Inc.

This passive mine water treatment system was originally constructed in 2003 as part of an effort to lessen the impact of mine drainage in the Raccoon Creek Watershed. It functioned successfully for a number of years until access to the system was restricted by a property owner. The system subsequently fell into disrepair and is now in need of renovation and expansion. The property now has a new owner and access to the system has been re-established. Range will pay $758,089 for the rehabilitation and expansion of the system and an additional $191,000 toward long-term operation and maintenance of the system.

“Protection of our natural resources is a key component of DEP’s mission.” John Ryder, DEP’s Director of Oil and Gas Operations said. “This innovative agreement does that directly by providing support for a local project that will improve our state’s waterways without the use of additional public funding.”

Range proposed the project as part of the settlement discussions with DEP and has pledged to sign an Implementation Agreement for the project that includes an outline of the scope of the project, a commitment by the conservation district to complete the project and a plan for submitting progress reports to DEP.

DEP approved the Hamilton AMD project in lieu of receiving additional penalties because the project will provide a substantial benefit to public health and the environment. The project also has strong local support.

Outside of this agreement, the project is not something that Range is otherwise legally required to do and Range may not deduct any costs incurred in connection with implementation of the project for any tax purposes.

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BREAKING: DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15 Million for Violating Environmental Regulations Consent Order; Agreement to Close 5 Washington County Impoundments

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken in May by Robert Donnan, who graciously allowed me to use it here.

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken in May by Robert Donnan, who graciously allowed me to use it here.

Editor’s Note: The following is from a news release put out today by the state Department of Environmental Protection. -amanda

The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday announced it has signed a wide-ranging consent order and agreement with Range Resources for violations at six of its Washington County centralized waste water impoundments.

The consent order requires the company to pay a $4.15 million fine, the largest against an oil and gas operator in the state’s shale drilling era, close five impoundments and upgrade two other impoundments to meet heightened “next generation” standards currently under development at DEP.

“This action reaffirms the administration’s unwavering commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s soil and water resources,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “This landmark consent order establishes a new, higher benchmark for companies to meet when designing future impoundments, which is an environmental win for Pennsylvania.”

Violations at the impoundments include various releases of contaminants, such as leaking flowback that affected soil and groundwater. To date there has been no impact on drinking water from any of these impoundments.

Under the consent order, Range Resources will immediately begin the closure of the Hopewell Township 11 (Lowry), Cecil Township 23 (Worstell), and Kearns impoundments.

Range Resources will also continue the closure of the Yeager impoundment. The company must close the Hopewell Township 12 (Bednarski) impoundment by April 1, 2015.

Additionally, the consent order also directs Range Resources to upgrade two other impoundments. The liner systems at the Chartiers Township 16 (Carol Baker) and Amwell Township 15 (Jon Day) impoundments will be completely redesigned and rebuilt to meet “next generation” standards currently under development at DEP.

When upgrading the two impoundments, Range Resources will install thicker liners than are currently required, an electrically conductive geomembrane that will allow better identification of potential leaks and a real-time leak detection system.  Range will also fully investigate and remediate any groundwater contamination caused by the previous operation of the impoundments.

Another impoundment, Mount Pleasant Township 17 (Carter), will be limited to storing only fresh water for as long as it remains in service. Range will also install a groundwater monitoring well network at the impoundment now and will perform an environmental site assessment at this impoundment once it is permanently closed.

The company will be required to report to DEP quarterly on the progress of the shutdown and remediation of the sites.

The consent order also requires Range Resources to immediately begin soil and groundwater investigations at each of the closed impoundments to determine what, if any, impact there was from their operation of the impoundments. If contamination is found, the company is required to remediate the sites.

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DEP Issues Notice of Violation to Range Resources for Leaking Cecil Township Impoundment

worstell

The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of violation to Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources for groundwater contamination at the former Worstell centralized waste water impoundment in Cecil Township.

News of the NOV was given to Cecil Township officials at a private meeting with DEP Monday night, board Chairman Andy Schrader said Tuesday morning.

Schrader said the NOV was issued to Range Resources because liquid from the frack pit, now known as Cecil 23 Impoundment, “escaped containment.”

“Since the DEP issued the notice of violation, this confirmed that the Cecil Township 23 is leaking. For the safety of our residents this was the township’s concern from the beginning,” Schrader.

He said DEP will arrange for further testing to be done at the site to determine the extent of the soil and water contamination.

Three officials from DEP met with all five Cecil supervisors and township Manager Don Gennusso at the municipal building for about two hours Monday to discuss ongoing concerns over possible groundwater contamination stemming from what is now confirmed to have been a leak.

The Monday meeting was requested by township officials after news that, on July 11 Range Resources notified the DEP that there were elevated chloride levels detected by the ground water monitoring wells at the Cecil 23 waste water impoundment.

“Range has until September 24 to respond.  It is our expectation that Range would perform a full characterization of the extent of the plume of contamination and to implement an appropriate remedial response to address the release,” DEP spokesman John Poister said in an email. “Still to be determined would be any civil penalty for Range.”

In response to repeated inquiries by Cecil Township officials, the DEP said last month that it would conduct a limited investigation. Cecil officials in turn sent letters to about 50 nearby residents letting them know about the potential for groundwater contamination.

The Worstell impoundment made headlines in 2013, when Cecil Township supervisors sought to meet publicly with DEP regarding concerns over the frack pit.

DEP refused to meet in public, and documents obtained through a state Right to Know request showed high-ranking officials making a joke about using a provision in the open records law to keep the gathering in private.

News of possible groundwater and soil contamination at the Cecil 23 Impoundment comes in the wake of a “significant” leak at another Range Resources impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County. That leak necessitated the removal of at least 15,000 tons of soil. DEP issued notices of violation for the leak.

A third frack pit in Amwell run by Range Resources known as the Yeager impoundment – which was the subject of lawsuits and a federal probe – is reportedly in the process of being closed.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking more information.

Editor’s Note: It should be acknowledged that the former Worstell impoundment was the subject of industry PR spin. Check out this story and feel free to leave a comment asking for a correction.

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DEP Issues Notices of Violation to Range Resources for Leaking Yeager Impoundment in Washington County

Impoundments like this are used to store water used in the fracking process.

Impoundments like this are used to store water used in the fracking process.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued notices of violation to Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources over issues at its Yeager centralized waste water impoundment on McAdams Road in Amwell Township, Washington County including holes in the liner and elevated chloride levels.

Range Resources violated sections of the Oil and Gas Act, the Clean Streams Act, the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act, and the Solid Waste Management, Act 35.

In the letter from DEP to Range Resources dated July 24, department Water Quality Specialist Supervisor John M. Carson wrote that during the operation of the centralized impoundment, “flow was often detected at the leak detection zone, but Range did not satisfy the permit’s weekly chlorides testing requirements” for it.

The letter goes on to explain that, in a Mary 14 assessment report Range Resources sent to the department, the company indicated that “a hole penetrated the top and bottom liners of the centralized impoundment” on its northeast side directly to the east of the sump area.

The assessment also detailed “holes found during earlier Range inspections,” according to the letter.

That same report also identified five areas of the impoundment site where there were elevated levels of chlorides.

Carson writes:

“These areas are near where Range found liner holes. Chlorides as reflected in the permit, typically indicate a flowback or frack fluids release to soil. The presence of liner holes and corresponding elected chlorides indicate fluids in the impoundment leaked.”

DEP also said:

  • Range Resources did not monitor chlorides as stated in its application and required by its permit
  • Range Resources did not submit an “as built” plans as required. Those plans would have shown department-approved changes to the original plan.
  • Range Resources violated the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act, which states that owners of dams, water obstructions or encroachments are required to “monitor, operate and maintain the facility in a safe condition.”
  • That centralized impoundment fluids “escaped containment,” which is in violation of the Oil and Gas Act and the Solid Waste Management Act

Range Resources has until Aug. 8 to respond to the NOV, according to the letter.

The letter indicates that enforcement action could include civil or criminal proceedings, as well as civil penalties.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking further details.

The Yeager impoundment is the second Range Resources pit in Washington County to garner notices of violation. Notices were also sent out for its Jon Day impoundment, also located in Amwell Township, where 15,000 tons of contaminated soil are being removed following a “significant” leak.

Range recently sought to close the Yeager impoundment, which is the subject of several lawsuits as well as a federal probe.

Soil analysis is being conducted at a third Range Resources pit known as Cecil 23 impoundment, formerly known as the Worstell impoundment in Cecil Township. Municipal officials last week hand-delivered letters to nearby residents warning them of potential contamination.

 

 

 

 

 

Range Resources Wants to Close Frack Pit At Center of Lawsuits, Federal Probe

Impoundments like this are used to store water used in the fracking process.

Impoundments like this one are used to store water used in the fracking process.

Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources has initiated the process to close a controversial centralized impoundment in Washington County, the subject of myriad lawsuits and a federal probe.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister on Monday confirmed the agency is reviewing an Impoundment Closure and Reclamation Plan submitted by the company for what is known as the Yeager impoundment in Amwell Township.

“They do not have to do this since impoundment closing plans are part of the original impoundment permits,” Poster said of the plan submitted. “However, because of what they say is local interest, they felt that they should present a closure plan for the impoundment. We have been in the process of reviewing the plan and will issue a response later this week.”

He continued: “If DEP approves the plan, Range would be able to proceed with closure of the impoundment. As part of that closure process, Range will be required to determine if there are any impacted soils at the site.”

If there was a release of water from the impoundment, any impacted soils would be required to be remediated and Range would need to conduct confirmatory testing to demonstrate that the release is remediated, Poister explained.

Three Washington County families in 2012 filed a civil lawsuit against Range Resources and two other companies claiming they had been sickened and their water contaminated by drilling activities conducted on what was known as the Yeager farm property near their homes.

Here is an excerpt from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the suit:

“According to the lawsuit, Range Resources knew its shale gas development operation on the Yeager farm property on McAdams Road in Amwell had contaminated the groundwater with chemicals from a leaking drilling waste pit and a 3 million-gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid flowback impoundment as early as November 2010. But, the suit states, the company told the plaintiffs that tests showed their well water was safe to drink, shower and bathe in, cook with, and provide to farm animals and pets. Some of those animals were sickened, and some died.

Range Resources has maintained for years that its Yeager operations, which include one “fracked” well and two drilled wells, condensate tanks, the flowback fluids impoundment and drill cuttings pit, have not contaminated groundwater.”

To read the entire story, click here.

In another lawsuit regarding, in part, the Yeager impoundment, Beth Voyles, whose farm is located 800 feet from oil and gas well drilling operations including the pit, alleged in court that the DEP did not investigate various alleged violations there.

Here is an excerpt from a Canon-McMillan Patch article on the suit:

“She alleges that her quality of life and health have decreased dramatically since drilling of natural gas wells at the site and completion of the impoundment. Her health ailments include rashes, blisters, light-headedness, nose bleeds and lethargy,” court documents indicate. “She avers medical testing revealed the presence of elevated concentrations of arsenic, benzene, and toluene in her body.”

Court documents show that Voyles has accused the DEP of failing to undertake a full investigation into air and water issues at the site to determine whether or not those health effects could have been caused by contamination.

In short, the suit alleges that the site “fails to comply with DEP impoundment construction standards and that DEP has failed to issue to (Range Resources) various violation notices, to order compliance with the impoundment construction standards and/or impose civil penalties for (the company’s) violation of the above laws.”

The DEP has maintained that it investigated the complaints and notified Voyles of the results on Sept. 22, 2011. Further, the DEP maintained “the court lacks jurisdiction to review and agency’s exercise of its discretion to enforce it statutory and regulatory duties.”

The Yeager impoundment also made headlines last year, when documents garnered through the discovery process– including internal emails and personnel records detailing an unreported spill of more than 21,000 gallons of flow back water, as well as a “cover up” perpetrated by one of its employees– became public.

The investigative report on those documents can be read here.

Poister has said DEP is investigating the alleged incident.

Neither Matt Pitzarella nor Mark Winkler – both Range Resources’ spokesmen – immediately responded to emails seeking further information about plans to close the pit.

 

DEP: ‘My Bad,’ Range Resources Never Tested Soil at Leaking Impoundment for Drilling Chemicals

 

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken by Robert Donnan, who kindly allowed me to use it.

This photo of the Jon Day impoundment was taken by Robert Donnan, who kindly allowed me to use it.

Ever since the state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed a “significant leak” at a Range Resources centralized open impoundment in Washington County that required the excavation and removal of thousands of tons of soil, both the company and the department were adamant: The only contaminant was chloride – just salt.

Poister told the Observer-Reporter earlier this month, “Inspections revealed chloride in the soil and groundwater, which was a result of Southpointe-based Range Resources storing brine water in the impoundment, but no other materials or chemicals.”

But the reason might surprise you: Chlorides have only been detected because chlorides are the only thing Range Resources had its contractor test for, a DEP spokesman confirmed Monday.

This is contrary to information DEP spokesman John Poister gave Marcellus Monitor last week. On Thursday he said that “additional chemicals associated with drilling” had been detected in the contaminated soil during a “wider array” of testing.

“This is my bad,” Poister said Monday.

He explained that he had misheard the inspector, who had indicated that only conductivity testing had been completed at the site – what he described as being the “quickest” way to determine the extent of contamination – and that DEP would require that additional testing be completed.

But Poister was clear: Those wider array of tests are to be completed only after all the soil has been cleared from the site.

“That’s the protocol, we’ve got to get the soil out of there,” he explained. “We don’t jump the steps. The chief thing is to get that soil out.”

It was not clear how Range Resources would test soil after it had been hauled from the site.

Asked if DEP would conduct its own tests on soil at the Jon Day impoundment, Poister indicated that was not the role of the regulatory agency.

“The permit states (Range Resources) is required to do the testing. I don’t know beyond that,” he explained, adding that was the way state regulations are written.

Poister said crews are using conductivity tests to determine when to stop digging at the Jon Day impoundment at Amwell Township, where 10,000 tons of contaminated soil have already been excavated and hauled away from the former frack pit. At least 5,000 more tons will likely need to be removed, he said.

No deadline has been set for Range to complete the soil removal and conduct additional testing.

“This is not something that you do overnight,” he said about the cleanup effort.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking further information.

 

 

 

 

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DEP: Additional Chemicals “Associated with Drilling” Found in Contaminated Soil at Range Resources Impoundment

John-Day_Pit_5-19-14

A Department on Environmental Protection spokesman on Thursday confirmed that “other chemicals associated with drilling” have been found in the contaminated soil being hauled from the Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County – the site of a “significant” leak earlier this year.

The spokesman, John Poister, said a “wider array” of tests showed the other chemicals, while initial testing showed only chlorides, which he indicated was a “marker” for contamination.

The exact chemicals found in the soil were not immediately disclosed.

DEP is seeking further information from Range Resources, Poister said.

 

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DEP Issues Notices of Violation to Range Resources Over Washington County Methane Leak

Range_Resources_Logo

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday issued notices of violation to Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources over a methane leak last month at a gas well in Washington County.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the “equipment failure” May 14 at the Herman Pad in Mt. Pleasant Township that spurred a precautionary evacuation of a few dozen residents resulted in the company being issued Thursday with an NOV for failure to operate a well according to regulations, and for hazardous release of a gas into the air.

He said DEP is requiring Range Resources to provide it with a full explanation of what caused the equipment failure, as well as its plan to correct the problem. Additionally, Poister said DEP is requiring the company to provide it with information about the future of the well, which he said was not operational at the time of the leak.

That information is due back to DEP by July 11, he said.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking further information on the matter.

 

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