Chesapeake Fined for Groundwater Contamination, Resumes Hydraulic Fracturing; Congress Pursues Safety Study

by Nicole Good on May 19, 2011

After an improper casing on one of Chesapeake Energy’s Marcellus wells led to the contamination of private water supplies for 16 families in Bradford County, Pa in 2010, and a tank fire injured three workers in February, Pennsylvania DEP has charged the company with the largest single fine it has ever issued to an oil and gas driller– nearly $1.1 million.  In addition to the fines, the families affected by these incidents are pursuing legal action.  The contamination of the Bradford County wells with methane and the fine imposed are unrelated to the recent  blowout of a Chesapeake well and the stream contamination related to that event in the same county.  This announcement comes only days after Chesapeake Energy declared that it would resume hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, having voluntarily suspending operations for three weeks in response to a blowout in Bradford County.  This incident, along with the recent Duke study linking hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination, have caused Congress to create a new panel to evaluate the safety of hydraulic fracturing.  Set up by the US Department of Energy, the panel will present its preliminary recommendations to Congress in 90 days.

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