Tag Archives: Range Resources

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Range Resources for failure to keep proper water withdrawal records and for exceeding the amount of water withdrawn under an approved DEP Water Management Plan.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

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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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Cecil Township Warns Residents of Potential Water Contamination Near Frack Pit After DEP Refuses To

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EDITOR’S NOTE/UPDATE: DEP spokesman John Poister emailed me the following statement regarding the Cecil 23 Impoundment:

“DEP was notified of elevated chloride levels in one of its groundwater monitoring wells on July 11.  On July 21st Range did additional sampling on the site.  DEP will have inspectors on site next week to take our own samples from the groundwater monitoring and leak detection system at the impoundment. We do intend to contact property owners who are closest to and down gradient  of the impoundment to determine if they would provide DEP access to their property to conduct sampling of their wells.

Samples will be analyzed for a wide range of inorganic and organics as well as other compounds.  These lab tests generally take between 30 and 45 days to complete.

If DEP determines that groundwater may have been impacted, the DEP will require a comprehensive investigation of the groundwater including an assessment the private water wells with the potential to be impacted.

DEP has not had any complaints from private water well owners in the vicinity of the impoundment.”

 

A controversial Marcellus Shale centralized water impoundment Cecil Township operated by Range Resources and used in the fracking process may have contaminated nearby soil and groundwater, prompting municipal officials there today to hand-deliver letters to about 50 nearby residents.

“The township has come to learn that the impoundment is currently no holding any fluids and was taken out of service in April of this year,” the letter reads. “It is the township’s understanding that the impoundment was taken out of service as part of an investigation to determine whether any fluids entered the groundwater and soils in and around the impoundment site and the source of any fresh water.”

Cecil Township supervisors for more than a year have raised concerns about Cecil 23 impoundment, formerly known as the Worstell impoundment – and the board said in a press release that information it recently received “has furthered those concerns.”

Previously unknown to both the township and the public, is 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, according to the press release.

In response to repeated inquiries by Cecil Township officials, the DEP confirmed Thursday that they will conduct a limited investigation.

Upon learning this information, Cecil Township called DEP and requested that they notify Cecil Township residents of potential ground water contamination. Unfortunately, the DEP declined to do so initially stating ‘the DEP will not make a general notification to residents, according to Cecil officials.

“Based on recent evidence of water and soil contamination at other Range Resource impoundments in Washington County coupled with concerns raised by Auditor General, DePasquale’s report on DEP performance; we feel that the public has a right to know if it’s safe to live in their neighborhood,” supervisor’s Chairman Andy Schrader said. “Our residents’ safety is our first concern.”

The township intends to closely monitor this investigation and keep residents informed.

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: While the township intends to closely monitor this investigation and keep residents informed, concerned citizens should contact both the township at 724-745-2227 and the DEP at 1-866-255-5158 with any questions or concerns.

 

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

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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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Why Did Two Top Range Resources Executives Dump More Than Half Their Company Stock?

Ray Walker Jr.

Photo courtesy of Range Resources site

Photo courtesy of Range Resources site

Two of Range Resources’ top executives have sold more than half of the stock they owned in the corporation earlier this month, the Mideast Times has reported.

The executive, Chief Operating Officer Ray Walker Jr., sold 17,322 shares for more than $1.5 million. Walker still owns 15,975 shares of the company’s stock, valued at more than $1.4 million, according to the report.

On the same day, Range Resources Vice President David P. Poole sold 13,864 shares of the company’s stock for just more than $1.2 million, according to the news organization.

Following that sale, Poole now directly owns 8,796 shares in the company, valued at approximately $773,608.

The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link.

Editor’s Note: Thoughts on the stock sale? Could it have anything to do with all the high-profile litigation in which the company is embroiled? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. -amanda

 

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15,000 Tons of Contaminated Soil Likely to be Hauled from Range Resources Frack Pit, Groundwater Likely Effected

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

The amount of contaminated soil that will need to be removed from a Washington County centralized impoundment operated by Range Resources will be “even more” than the state Department of Environmental Protection had previously estimated, a spokesman confirmed Monday.

While DEP spokesman John Poister last month told the Observer-Reporter that as many as 10,000 tons would need to be excavated and hauled out of the Amwell Township site and into area landfills, on Monday he said it could actually be as much as 15,000 tons.

And Poister also confirmed that the “major leak” there has had some effect on the groundwater.

He said one ground well monitor showed chloride in the water there, Poister said.

DEP is still investigating, and said an inspector has been on scene at the impoundment almost every other day.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Range Resources, and Poister said additional citations related to the leak are likely. A civil penalty may also be assessed, he said.

Centralized impoundments are used to store millions of gallons of water used during the hydraulic fracturing process.

Range Resources impoundments in Washington County have been the subject of both controversy and national headlines this past year – mostly over questions about what exactly is in the water stored at the sites.

State Impact reported that company executives testified in a civil court case that they do not know what chemicals they are using in the fracking process.

Critics have long maintained that impoundments, sometimes called frack pits, are not an industry best practice, and have pushed for safer storage methods, such as closed-loop systems.

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

Here is a Google Earth image of the John Day impoundment in relation to a local elementary school.

Here is a Google Earth image of the John Day impoundment in relation to a local elementary school.

 

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Crews Hauling Remaining 1,000 Tons of Contaminated Soil Out of Range Resources Impoundment in Washington County This Week

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(This photo of the John Day impoundment in Amwell Township as of earlier this month. Photo Courtesy of Robert M. Donnan.)

An environmental reclamation company is working this week to haul out the remaining 1,000 tons of contaminated soil from a Washington County impoundment operated by Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said Tuesday.

The spokesman, John Poister, said the company, Weavertown Environmental, had been waiting to receive the proper documentation called a Form U in order to transport the remaining soil effected by what DEP has described as a “significant leak” at the Amwell Township impoundment.

Poister said more than 2,000 tons of soil will have been removed from the impoundment and into area landfills when the cleanup at the site is complete.

While DEP last month issued a notice of violation to Range Resources for the leak, no civil penalty has yet been assessed. Poister said that remains a possibility, and indicated that an investigation is ongoing into how the pit’s leak detection system “failed miserably” – and how the leak, reported April 16, had gone unnoticed by Range Resources officials.

The results of a soil analysis were not immediately available, but Poister said initial tests indicate that salt is the primary contaminant.

Centralized impoundments are used to store millions of gallons of water used during the hydraulic fracturing process.

Range Resources impoundments in Washington County have been the subject of both controversy and national headlines this past year – mostly over questions about what exactly is in the water stored at the sites.

State Impact reported that company executives testified in a civil court case that they do not know what chemicals they are using in the fracking process.

Critics have long maintained that impoundments, sometimes called frack pits, are not an industry best practice, and have pushed for safer storage methods, such as closed-loop systems.

Editor’s Note: I wanted to thank Robert M. Donnan for kindly allowing me to publish his photo of the John Day impoundment – it is greatly appreciated!

 

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Range Resources “Equipment Failure” Leads to Gas Leak, Precautionary Evacuation in Washington County

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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating an “equipment failure” at a Range Resources well pad in Washington County that caused a gas leak and spurred a precautionary evacuation of about 35 residents Wednesday morning.

DEP spokesman John Poister said Range Resources reported the “equipment failure” at the Herman Pad in Mt. Pleasant to Washington County 911 at 7:14 a.m. Wednesday. The local volunteer fire department and Range Resources personnel responded.

The incident was reportedly under control by 7:54 a.m. No injuries were reported.

Poister said the failure led to a release of methane into the air, and indicated that while such a release is a violation, it is too early to tell if a formal notice of violation would be issued to Range Resources.

“We do not believe there was a tremendous amount of methane released,” he said. However, DEP is taking air quality samples “just to be sure.”

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

Editor’s Note: Photo was submitted by a resident who lives near the Herman Pad in Mt. Pleasant.

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