DEP hits energy company with $350,000 fine

A state investigation into a June natural gas spill in Clearfield County blames the energy company running the well for skirting safety standards. The June 3rd accident caused natural gas and polluted water to shoot into the air for more than 16 hours.

A state investigation faults EOG Resources for having just one pressure barrier in place at the well, and for failing to properly test their operation’s blowout preventer.

Lead investigator John Vittitow says EOG also failed to properly train its employees.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger says the state has imposed the stiffest fine possible, and warns DEP will revoke the company’s drilling license if it makes another mistake.  “It was an embarrassment,” he said during this afternoon’s press conference.  “And that – that is a word that describes unusual behavior. Unacceptable behavior. And EOG needs to turn the page here. I believe in redemption.” Hanger says EOG’s cooperation during the investigation played a role in DEP giving the company a second chance.

The $353,400 is the largest fine allowed under state law. DEP has sent a letter to all natural gas drillers operating in Pennsylvania, reminding them to install at least two pressure barriers at wells.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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