Pennsylvania regulators hit Vantage Energy with a nearly $1 million fine Monday for over a dozen environmental violations discovered earlier this year at a well pad in Greene County.
The penalties are tied to a landslide at the company’s Porter Street well pad site in January and the illegal disposal of waste at the same site in July.
On January 15, a landslide at the drilling site dropped the well pad about 40 feet down slope.
“The slide continued to grow substantially and eventually covered the two streams,” Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said.
In March, Colorado-based Vantage agreed to voluntarily stop drilling operations at the pad and to take interim action to prevent further movement of the slide.
The company was cited for “numerous violations” of the state’s Oil and Gas Act and Clean Streams Law for the incident.
On July 14, Vantage contractor Elite Well Services dumped two truckloads, or about 200 barrels, of drilling wastewater down the side of the same well pad.
The wastewater impacted the landslide area while it was being restored and contaminated the same two streams affected by the slide.
The DEP also discovered the company had constructed a new access road along the impacted streams without proper authorization.
“These violations resulted in significant damage to our natural resources and this action is in direct response to the seriousness of the violations. To its credit, Vantage has begun to make a genuine effort to better manage and operate their well sites.” DEP director of district oil and gas operations John Ryder said.
Vantage has hired an independent consultant to conduct an environmental audit of all its Pennsylvania well sites and the company is now fully cooperating with DEP.
The company will pay $999,900 in fines for the incidents.
As part of the agreement, the company will also provide written progress reports updating the DEP on its cleanup efforts.
Vantage must complete all the work on the site and meet all DEP regulations by December, 31, 2015.
The fine is one of the largest ever imposed against a Marcellus producer.