Chesapeake Energy pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to three violations of the Clean Water Act, admitting it had dumped at least 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into the Blake Fork stream in West Virginia on three different occasions in 2008.
The U.S. Attorney's office said contractors hired and supervised by the Oklahoma City driller discharged the rock from dump trucks into Blake Fork when developing access roads to a natural gas drilling site in Wetzel County, which borders southwestern Pennsylvania.
Each violation carries a $200,000 fine, so Chesapeake will pay a total of $600,000. The company also will be placed onto probation and supervised by the court for two years.
One of the dumps obliterated a natural waterfall, federal officials said. The case was investigated by the criminal investigation division of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into a body of water without a permit, which Chesapeake did not receive.
Chesapeake also agreed Friday to settle other undisclosed violations in Wetzel and Marshall counties with civil penalties and not criminal charges, the court said.