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Fish & Boat Commission Investigation Of Pollution From PA General Energy Natural Gas Development Construction Site On Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek Results In Settlement Agreement
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The Fish and Boat Commission investigation of pollution caused by the failure of erosion controls to protect water quality at the Pennsylvania General Energy Loyalsock/Shawnee natural gas pipeline and surface water withdrawal construction site on the Loyalsock Creek in Gamble and Plunketts Creek townships, Lycoming County has resulted in an out-of-court settlement agreement.

The September 5 incident resulted in a heavy sediment plume in the Loyalsock Creek that ran for several miles downstream impacting aquatic life and the habitat of the rare Eastern Hellbender salamander in what DEP classifies as an Exceptional Value stream, the highest stream classification category.  Read more here.

“There were deficiencies found on the part of the company when it came to their best management practices in controlling erosion and sedimentation,” said Captain Anthony Quarrancino, from the Fish and Boat Commission Central Law Enforcement Office in Bellefonte.  “So, basically what our officer did when he was done, he concluded his investigation, and there was a settlement offer made [to the company], which is basically an out-of-court settlement.

“We didn't fine them, per se, or institute a criminal action against them. We handle a lot of our pollution events, disturbance events [this way], depending on the cooperation that we receive with the responsible party,” said Captain Quarrancino. “That dollar amount [is] commensurate with what we feel the damages were to the resource.”

Captain Quarrancino said the Commission does not release copies of settlement agreements or the dollar amounts of the settlement to the public.

He explained penalties for a one-day violation can range from $250 and $5,000.

"The officers need to classify an event as a severe, a moderate, or a minor," said Captain Quarrancino, "This was considered a moderate event, between $1,000 and usually $4,000 is where we look at our penalty range."

On September 27, the Department of Environmental Protection issued two formal notices of violations to Pennsylvania General Energy for pollution caused at the Loyalsock Creek construction site occurring from August 24 to September 6.  Read more here.

An October 13 DEP inspection of the construction site again found multiple violations of the state Clean Streams Law and Solid Waste Management Act.  Read more here.

More citizen complaints and a follow up DEP inspection on November 28 by DEP resulted in issuing more Clean Streams Law violations to PA General Energy for activities at the construction site.  Read more here.

As of January 12, DEP has not issued additional notices of violation or taken other enforcement actions related to the site since November 28, according to Megan Lehman, of DEP’s Northcentral Regional Office, and construction at the site has shut down for the winter.

Reaction

Barb Jamoska of Keep It Wild PA said, "I know I speak for all those who have witnessed Pennsylvania General Energy's 12 violations of the Clean Streams Law and state Solid Waste Management Act on Loyalsock Creek when I say we are very disappointed by the Fish and Boat Commission fine.

"The amount is neither likely to be of financial consequence nor serve as a deterrent to PGE or other drilling companies engaged in stream crossings and water withdrawals.

"By way of comparison: let's suppose a DUI violation came a $5 fine and no risk of license suspension. What are the chances such a punishment would stop the driver from reoffending?

“Unless and until the consequences of the 10,029 violations racked up by the fossil gas industry come with fines that are more than budget dust, the current situation will prevail.

“Significant fines accompanied by forced work stoppages and denied permits are needed to bring about meaningful change in corporate accountability and responsibility.

"That "current situation" becomes increasingly untenable for the future of Pennsylvania's residents and the ecosystems we depend on for our air, water, and well being."

Project Background

The PA General Energy Loyalsock/Shawnee natural gas pipeline and surface water withdrawal construction site is on both sides of Route 87 and the Loyalsock Creek, approximately 8 miles north of Montoursville in Gamble Township, Lycoming County.

The natural gas gathering pipeline system and freshwater supply pipelines are being built to connect the development of three shale gas tracts leased from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Loyalsock State Forest that are expected to add up to 80 additional shale gas wells.

The pipelines will connect two leased tracts of state forest land on a plateau on the north side of the Loyalsock Creek, run about a mile down steep hillsides, under the Loyalsock Creek and State Route 87, and 1.5 miles up steep slopes up to a third leased tract on state forest land on the south side of the Creek.

The freshwater pipeline will be constructed above ground.  PGE will attempt to use new underground “micro-tunneling” technology for the natural gas pipeline, down steep slopes on both sides of the Creek.

Loyalsock EV Stream

The Loyalsock is classified by DEP as an Exceptional Value stream whose water quality must be protected by law, with no degradation.  The Creek was also named by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as the 2018 Pennsylvania River of the Year and called a “timeless treasure.”  Read more here.

The Loyalsock Creek is home to the Eastern Hellbender, named the state’s official amphibian after a campaign by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Student Leadership Council.  It only thrives in clean water.  Read more here.

Surveys of Loyalsock Creek in Lycoming County over the last two summers by Dr. Peter Petokas, from Lycoming College Clean Water Institute, found habitats of the rare Eastern Hellbender salamander are being significantly impacted by sediment plumes from natural gas pipeline crossing and shale gas drilling-related water withdrawal construction projects. Read more here.

Public Urged To Report Problems

“Any member of the public concerned about this or other potential environmental issues they may observe at any time should contact their regional DEP office to file a complaint,” said Mary Lehman, DEP’s Northcentral Regional Office.  “Complaints may be filed over the phone or through a web form.”

(Photos: Multiple erosion and sedimentation control failures at PGE Shawnee site on the Loyalsock Creek starting September 5.)

Related Articles:

-- Exceptional Value Water Quality Designation, State Forest Land, River Honors Were Not Enough To Protect Loyalsock Creek From Natural Gas Drilling & Pipelines In Lycoming County - By Friends Of The 'Sock   [9.7.22]

-- NO SPECIAL PROTECTION: The Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek In Lycoming County Is Dammed And Damned - Video Dispatch From The Loyalsock - By Barb Jarmoska, Keep It Wild PA [10.17.22]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Has No Exclusion Zones For Water Withdrawals From Any Streams, Including EV Or HQ Streams Subject To Water Quality Antidegradation Rules  [10.17.22]

-- DEP, Fish & Boat Commission Investigate Multiple, Continuing Water Pollution Discharges From PGE Natural Gas Pipeline Construction Site On Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming County  [9.13.22]

-- Rare Eastern Hellbender Habitat In Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming County Harmed By Sediment Plumes From Pipeline Crossings, Shale Gas Drilling Water Withdrawal Construction Projects  [9.15.22]

-- DEP Issues 2 NOVs Against PA General Energy For Water Pollution Discharges Into The Loyalsock Creek From Gas Pipeline/Water Withdraw Construction In Lycoming County  [9.27.22]

-- DEP: PA General Energy Cited For More Water Pollution Violations, Blocking The Whole Width Of Loyalsock Creek At Gas Pipeline/Water Withdrawal Construction Site In Lycoming County [10.28.22]

-- Citizen Complaints Result In DEP Issuing PA General Energy More Violations At Loyalsock Creek Gas Pipeline/Water Withdrawal Construction Site In Lycoming County  [12.16.22]

PA DEP Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 7 to 13  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - Jan. 14  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 46 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Jan. 14 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Reports:

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Has Record Year: Cost, Criminal Convictions Up; $3.1 Million In Penalties Collected; Record Number Of Violations Issued; Major Compliance Issues Uncovered; Evidence Of Health Impacts Mounts

-- DEP Report Finds: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Routinely Abandon Wells; Fail To Report How Millions Of Gallons Of Waste Is Disposed; And Non-Compliance Is An ‘Acceptable Norm’

Related Articles This Week:

-- DEP Ongoing Explosion/Fire Investigation: Energy Transfer Reported An Uncontrolled Release Of Ethane For 9.5 Hours From Its Revolution Natural Gas Processing Plant In Washington County  [PaEN]

-- Guest Essay: Counties, PEMA Need To Include A Complete Vulnerability Assessment Of All Natural Gas Facilities In State, County Hazard Mitigation Emergency Plans [PaEN]

-- DEP Releases 2 More Bid Solicitations To Plug 38 Abandoned Conventional Gas Wells In Venango County At Taxpayer Expense; Average Cost To Plug $95,000  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Valley Institute Report Shows Diversified Energy, Owner Of Over 22,500 Conventional Oil & Gas Wells In PA, May Be Financially Insolvent  [PaEN]

-- Fish & Boat Commission Investigation Of Pollution From PA General Energy Natural Gas Development Construction Site On Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek Results In Settlement Agreement  [PaEN]

-- PJM’s Preliminary Review Of Christmas Storm Electric Generation Failures Shows Natural Gas Units Failed To Provide Power At Over Triple The Rate Of Other Generation  [PaEN]

-- EPA Invites Comments On Draft Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well Permit In Young Twp., Jefferson County; Feb. 13 Virtual Hearing Tentatively Set  [PaEN]

-- Better Path Coalition Outlines Needed Environmental, Climate Policy Changes For Incoming Shapiro Administration  [PaEN]

-- American Petroleum Institute Unveils Plan To Prioritize U.S. Natural Gas And Oil; Target Northeast U.S. For Pipeline Development  [PaEN]

-- EQT, Chesapeake, Equitrans Shale Gas Companies Announce Methane Reduction Initiatives  [PaEN]

-- Groups Host Jan. 17 Webinar On Climate & Health Impacts Of Methane Gas From Oil & Gas Operations  [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance Hosts Jan. 17 Webinar On Exploring Oil & Gas Industrialization Impacts On Watersheds  [PaEN]

-- Bob Donnan’s Blog: Has Anything Changed? - Shalefield Stories, Revisiting Our Fracking Past

[Posted: January 13, 2023]


1/16/2023

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