MarkWest Pipeline Created a Terrible Mess in Doddridge & Wetzel Counties

by Duane Nichols on April 26, 2019

Franks Run was heavily polluted during pipeline construction

MarkWest & WV state agree to $124K deal for environmental problems

From an Article by Kate Mishkin, Charleston Gazette, April 19, 2019

A gas company has agreed to a $124,030 deal with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for its environmental violations in Doddridge and Wetzel counties.

MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources and the DEP entered into the consent order March 28. The order is subject to a comment period that ends May 16.

The 134-page consent order outlines environmental issues while the company was working to install a pipeline in Doddridge and Wetzel counties between August 2018 and February 2019.

Most recently, DEP inspectors visited the site on Feb. 27 and found the company had failed to keep sediment-laden water from leaving the site, and had “caused conditions not allowable in waters of the State by creating distinctly visible settleable solids” in one of the bodies of water. Inspectors subsequently wrote a Notice of Violation, which does not include a financial penalty.

The consent order includes a breakdown of fines: a $99,200 base penalty; $9,920 for willfulness or negligence; $24,800 for compliance or noncompliance history; and $30 for public notice costs. The company got a $9,920 discount for cooperating with the state.

That doesn’t account for staff investigative costs and the cost of dealing with repeat violators, said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

“This penalty, as with others, does not consider the economic benefit MarkWest Liberty gained from cutting corners. The order documents chronic lack of maintenance that’s required to control polluted run-off, yet there’s no acknowledgement that MarkWest saved money by choosing not to hire the personnel needed to avoid these damages,” Rosser said. “If paying the penalty is less than it costs to do the job right, then it’s not an effective deterrent.”

The consent order includes about 115 pages of photos of the project, including photos of muddy water and overflowing water.

“After seeing the pages and pages of photos, I’m grateful for the DEP doing their job, but mostly I just get upset. I’m upset with this company. I’m upset with the industry to not hold itself to a higher standard. Companies showing such blatant disregard for laws that protect our citizens’ water simply shouldn’t be allowed the privilege of doing business here,” Rosser said.

The company did not respond to a request for comment. The DEP would not answer additional questions about the consent order.

“WVDEP has no further comments beyond those provided on the signed consent order,” Casey Korbini, deputy director for remediation programs, said in an email.

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