Pa. DEP Fines Drilling Company for Drinking Water Contamination
Catalyst Energy Inc. must pay fines, take corrective actions at well sites
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced it has fined Catalyst Energy Inc. $185,000 for a number of violations at its non-Marcellus oil and gas well operations in Forest, McKean and Warren counties.
In addition to paying a fine and taking corrective actions at its well sites, Catalyst faces restrictions on drilling, hydraulic fracturing and developing new or existing well sites.
"Catalyst has paid the penalty and is working under a negotiated timetable to rectify these violations," DEP Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch said. "The company must also demonstrate it is in total compliance before drilling or completing more wells."
Catalyst's drilling activities in an area of Hickory Township, Forest County, contaminated 14 water supplies. Samples showed that the water contained iron, manganese and methane at higher levels than existed prior to drilling. In Pennsylvania, unless operators can prove their drilling activities did not cause the contamination, they are presumed liable for water contamination if the affected water supply is within 1,000 ft of the drilled oil or gas well and the pollution occurred within six months of the completion of drilling.
Catalyst installed water treatment systems and conducted cleanouts of some of the wells, restoring the water supplies, and returned other water supplies to pre-drill conditions through other work on the company's wells. Catalyst now has 60 days to submit a remediation plan to address the eight remaining water supplies not yet restored or replaced.
Through the end of 2012, Catalyst must obtain DEP's authorization before it can develop or drill new wells or hydraulically fracture existing wells. DEP will grant the authorization if its inspections verify the company is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations at the site.