Nov. 14–A natural gas drilling company was fined $294,000 by the state for polluting the Monongahela River last year with about 4 million gallons of mine water when it punctured an abandoned mine as it was boring underneath Route 136 in Forward Township to install a pipe to carry fresh water for a drilling site.
The Department of Environmental Protection in Pittsburgh said Tuesday EQT Production Co. in Cecil paid the fine as part of a consent order and agreement covering violations of the Clean Streams Law in Allegheny County.
According to the DEP, EQT inadvertently pierced the abandoned Gallatin mine on Jan. 17, 2017 as it was boring a hole underneath Route 136 to install a pipeline from the Monongahela River to its Rostosky drilling site in Forward Township, Allegheny County. It took EQT until Jan. 31 to stop the discharge through the waterline borehole to unnamed tributaries of the Monongahela River and associated wetlands.
Linda Robinson, an EQT spokesman, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
EQT was aware when it applied for permits in July 2016 there were several abandoned coal mines in the area, the DEP said. EQT relied on regional mapping that generally described mine pools as “not flooded or unknown” but did not undertake any further investigation. There were seeps of orange water near the area of the waterline borehole.
Since the incident, EQT has constructed a collection and drainage system similar to what was in place when the water was discharged. EQT also agreed to establish a $100,000 fund with the Clean Streams Foundation to provide for the maintenance, operation, and replacement of the system.
In September, Commonweath Court upheld a $1.1 million fine levied against EQT Production’s parent company, EQT Corp. of Pittsburgh, for violating state environmental laws by failing to prevent significant contamination from a fracking water holding pond in Tioga County six years ago.
The state Environmental Hearing Board found that water from the drilling site in Tioga County continued to pollute area groundwater, even after the company emptied the pond.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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