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.