Chesapeake Appalachia was sentenced Monday to pay a $600,000 fine for an unauthorized discharge of stone and gravel into Blake Fork in Wetzel County, W.Va., in 2008.
The sentence was negotiated between the company's attorneys and the office of William J. Ihlenfeld II, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, and approved by U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr.
Prosecutors said Chesapeake's contractors dumped 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into the waterway in an effort to create a roadway to access a Marcellus Shale gas drilling site called Hohman Pit. The company pleaded guilty in October to the Clean Water Act violation.
"The defendants knowingly and repeatedly obliterated sensitive wetlands," said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in West Virginia. "Companies and their managers who try to skirt the law to save money undermine our efforts to protect the public and the environment. Make no mistake, they will be vigorously prosecuted."
Chesapeake said in a statement that it "has removed the gravel and restored the site in accordance with a government-approved restoration plan" and "promptly instituted additional training and oversight to help ensure that our regulatory obligations are met."