AG Josh Shapiro criminally charges two more drilling companies, both deliberately hid a spill (“is just the nature of the beast” was the excuse), face five violations of PA’s Clean Stream Law. Will Encana/Ovintiv ‘n CAPP allow an AG like Josh Shapiro in Canada?

Probably not. Instead, we get flakes like AG Jody Wilson Raybould (tellingly silent when Supreme Court of Canada fractured Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and knowingly published a lie in Ernst vs AER) and endless cowardly empty pea pod Encana crime-enablers:

Peter Watson (now Chair federal regulator);

Bev Yee (now on the board AER);

Martin Foy (now exec VP AER);

Darren Bourget, Craig Knaus, Leslie Miller, Kevin Pilger (Alberta Environment Encana cover-up agents extra ordinaire);

Gerry Protti (past Chair AER & VP Encana Cenovus);

Mark Taylor (past exec VP AER & Encana manager);

Spy-hiring scum bag Niel McCrank (chair AER when it was EUB);

etc etc etc.

AG Shapiro charges 2 drilling companies with eco-crimes in Washington County by Megan Guza, July 22, 2020, triblive

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday charged two drilling companies with environmental crimes for their alleged pollution of a stream in Washington County.

The charges stem from a grand jury report released last month that alleged unconventional drilling companies allowed pollutants to fill the water and air around drilling sites. The report has led to charges against several drilling companies.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro named National Fuel Gas Supply and a subcontractor, Southeast Directional Drilling, in the latest charges. Both companies face five violations of the state’s Clean Stream Law.

Karen Merkel, a spokeswoman for National Fuel, said the company paid a civil penalty of less than $6,000 for the problem that led to discharge into the stream.

“We categorically deny any assertion that the company acted with indifference toward the communities where we live and operate,” she said. Pffft. Who in their right mind believes what fracer’s say anymore?

Southeast Directional Drilling representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.

The industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition has disputed the extensive allegations, and President David Spigelmyer said bla bla bla. the report contains factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations, legal omissions and unsubstantiated allegations.

“The safety of Pennsylvanians and our natural resources cannot be jeopardized when companies with big influence and deep pockets take advantage of our land and water for profits and disregard people,” Shapiro said in a statement.

The violations allegedly happened during pipeline installation near a tributary of St. Patrick’s Run near Route 22 in Bulger, according to the charges.

Shapiro said evidence showed employees discovered a small leak about a month into the pipeline installation and “the decision was made to ignore it.”

Southeast Directional employees testified that supervisors told them “to (pretend) they didn’t see it, more or less,” according to the statement. They also testified that it was common to “look the other way” and hide the spills and leaks from daily project reports.

A man living near the pipeline testified the drilling fluid turned the creek that ran through his property gray and cloudy, Shapiro said, and he was forced to shut off his well to keep it from becoming contaminated.

“​For decades, Pennsylvanians saw the health consequences and environmental devastation that came with unchecked corporate greed, and passed laws to prioritize people over big investors,” Shapiro said. “We should expand those laws, but today we’re doing all we can to protect the public and hold these companies accountable for impairing our water.”

Pa. AG: Two gas pipeline companies charged with polluting Washington County waterway by Don Hopey, July 22, 2020, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Two more shale gas development companies have been charged with environmental crimes in Washington County following a two-year state grand jury investigation, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday.

The attorney general formally charged National Fuel Gas Supply Corp., and its subcontractor, Southeast Directional Drilling, for polluting a tributary of St. Patrick Run and ground water near Route 22 in Bulger, Robinson Township.

“I made a commitment to Pennsylvanians that I would protect their constitutional right to clean air and pure water. These companies turned a blind eye to that right and will be held accountable,” Mr. Shapiro stated in the release.

According to the attorney general’s office, and based on testimony before the 45th Investigating Statewide Grand Jury, a drilling fluid leak was discovered during a transmission pipeline replacement project in June 2015, but the subcontractor ignored it.

Employees of the subcontractor testified that their supervisors told them to “[pretend] they didn’t see it, more or less.” Employees also testified that when these spills occurred on other sites, “it is common within the industry to ‘look the other way’ ” and not report the incidents.

According to the AG press release, they were directed to hide the leaks from the project’s daily reports which lead to the contamination of surface and ground water in the area.

A Washington County resident testified that, on the day the drilling fluid leaked, the creek that ran through his property turned grey and cloudy.

“He was forced to shut off his only source of drinking water in an effort to prevent the contaminants in the creek from entering his water well,” according to the AG news release. “He still cannot use the drinking water well on his property.”

National Fuel Gas was charged with two counts of discharging industrial waste and two counts of discharging other pollutants, and one count of unlawful conduct, all in violation of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law.

Arizona-based Southeast Directional Drilling, the pipeline project subcontractor, was charged with 2 counts of discharging industrial waste and one count of unlawful conduct.

According to the AG’s office, the charges of discharging waste and pollutants against the two companies are misdemeanors, as is the charge of unlawful conduct against NFG, and carry maximum penalties of $25,000.

The unlawful conduct charge against Southeast Directional Drilling is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of $50,000.

Southeast did not respond to several phone calls requesting comment.

Karen Merkel, a spokeswoman for New York-based NFG, issued a statement saying an “inadvertent return” of drilling fluids did occur during its contractor’s horizontal drilling project. and both companies worked with the state Department of Environmental Protection to “take appropriate remediation and recovery measures.”

In July 2017, National Fuel Gas settled civil charges brought by the DEP, paying a penalty of less than $6,000.

“For more than 118 years, National Fuel has been committed to being a good neighbor and corporate citizen and conducting safe, responsible resource development in the Commonwealth,” “Bla Bla Bla,” the company said in its statement. “We categorically deny any assertion that the company acted with indifference towards the communities where we live and operate.”

The charges against the two companies are the latest in a string of charges from the grand jury.

In June, based on testimony before the grand jury, Mr. Shapiro announced that Range Resources, one of the biggest shale gas development companies in the state, had pleaded no contest to criminal charges it “knowingly covered up” leaks at its Yeager well pad in Amwell Township, and at the Brownlee drilling site in Buffalo Township, both in Washington County.

Also as a result of the grand jury probe, Mr. Shapiro last month charged Cabot Oil and Gas with environmental violations for allowing methane gas to seep from poorly constructed shale gas wells into the ground water supplying residents of Dimock Township in Susquehanna County.

“For decades, Pennsylvanians saw the health consequences and environmental devastation that came with unchecked corporate greed, and passed laws to prioritize people over big investors,” Mr. Shapiro stated. “We should expand those laws, but today we’re doing all we can to protect the public and hold these companies accountable for impairing our water.”

From Debbie B… This relates to Brian and Susan Coppola’s case regarding the loss of water in their home and property in Washington County. The case has been in the court system for years. In case anyone is not familiar with Brian Coppola, he was the lead plaintiff on the monumental Act 13 case again the state of PA in 2012. (Robinson Twp. vs. Commonwealth of PA.) He was also a supervisor in Robinson Twp, Washington County at the time. Brian is probably the main reason we have any sort of restrictions concerning fracking in PA. More

AG charges two pipeline companies over spills in Washington County, Grand jury: contractor ‘looked the other way’ on one of the spills by Reid Frazier, July 22, 2020, State Impact

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro charged two pipeline companies with polluting groundwater and streams in a series of spills in 2015 along a pipeline project in Washington County. 

Shapiro said grand jury evidence obtained in the case showed that the pipeline builders chose to ignore a spill along the pipeline, failing to report it on a daily log. 

The charges stem from a construction project for a 24-inch natural gas pipeline in Robinson Township, about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh. 

The attorney general is charging two companies, New York-based National Fuel Gas Supply, and its subcontractor, Arizona-based Southeast Directional Drilling, for violating the state’s Clean Streams Law. 

“I made a commitment to Pennsylvanians that I would protect their constitutional right to clean air and pure water,” Shapiro said, in a statement. “These companies turned a blind eye to that right and will be held accountable.” Accountability is non-existant in tar ‘n frac patch Canada, thanks to our pathetic lying corporate crime enabling judges, Env NGOs, Synergy Alberta and our look the other way regulators.

According to court documents, the crews building the pipeline lost control of fluids used to bore underground tunnels for the pipeline, and the fluid surfaced in a nearby stream. The fluid commonly contains water, a form of clay called bentonite, as well as other chemicals and additives to assist in lubricating the drill and returning the drill cuttings to the surface. 

Neighbors also began noticing their private drinking water became cloudy and discolored, and tests later confirmed contaminants in the drinking water. 

A nearby stream that was normally clear became milky. One of the neighbors reporting problems with his water was former township supervisor Brian Coppola. Coppola, who is suing the companies in Washington County court, still can’t use his drinking water, according to the court documents.

A grand jury presentment charging two pipeline companies with environmental crimes related to a drilling fluid spill included this photo of a Washington County stream affected by the spill.

The documents say that even though the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tested Coppola’s drinking water, Coppola “never received anything other than the lab results” from the DEP. 

A subsequent test performed by a private lab found elevated levels of solids and chemicals in Coppola’s water. 

Other neighbors reported problems. One found “cloudy, white-colored water” when he began filling his pool with a garden hose.

Another, Brenda Vance, told the grand jury her water supply had turned white, but when a DEP water quality specialist came to her house, he tested it for contaminants associated with fracking and gas drilling, not pipeline drilling.

The DEP later told her that even though “common pollutants associated with oil and gas fluids” were found in her water, it  was “not adversely affected by the drilling, alteration, or operation of an oil and gas well.” 

A DEP water quality specialist testified to the grand jury that the Clean Water Program, which has purview over pipeline spills “strictly focuses on stream pollution and doesn’t incorporate any drinking water supply” in its analysis.  

Neil Shader, a DEP spokesman, said in an email the agency had no comment on the charges. But Shader said the agency has conducted water supply complaints on pipeline spills “for decades”, including investigations into water supply impacts from spills along the construction of the Mariner East pipeline. 

Shapiro said the companies deliberately hid one of the spills.  

The spill occurred on July 22, 2015. A foreman testified to a grand jury that after the small “inadvertent return”, or underground spill of drilling mud, he was directed to “look the other way” and not report the spill on a daily drill report.

“He acknowledged … that he was directed to not include information about the inadvertent return on the report,” the grand jury report said. “He explained, “I was in the contractor mentality and that is–that is just the nature of the beast. You are in the contractor mentality. You want to try to get the job done and not have any issues; but then whatever issues occur, you try to make them look minimal.” 

By the next day, the small spill had become a larger one, turning a nearby creek “a greyish color.” 

Karen Merkel, a spokeswoman for National Fuel, said in an emailed statement the company “upholds high environmental standards” at its pipeline construction sites. 

“We categorically deny any assertion that the Company acted with indifference towards the communities where we live and operate,” Merkel said.

Merkel said the company has cooperated with state and federal agencies investigating the spills, “to take appropriate remediation and recovery measures.”

The company paid a $5700 civil fine in 2017 to the DEP for the spills.  

But after hearing testimony, a state investigative grand jury recommended criminal charges in the case. Encana/Ovintiv needs to be criminally charged for the company’s many crimes at Rosebud, Alberta: diverting fresh water without a permit; intentionally frac’ing directly into the community’s drinking water aquifers contaminating them with 18 Million litres of still secret frac fluid, and later, causing more harm injecting cement into them; etc.

National Fuel Gas Supply and Southeast Directional Drilling were each charged with five counts under Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.

The charges come after a two-year investigation by the office into oil and gas companies. Range Resources pleaded no contest and paid $150,000 in fines for charges stemming from leaks and spills at two Washington County sites. 

Shapiro charged Cabot Oil and Gas with 15 criminal counts for pollution and stray gas migration at the company’s operations in Dimock, Pa. 

In June, the grand jury released a report in which it concluded that the DEP and state Department of Health ‘failed to protect’ Pennsylvanians from environmental damage caused by the oil and gas industry. 

Refer also to:

2020: DEP data shows bankrupt Chesapeake drilling new wells; Did Chesapeake file for bankruptcy to avoid paying outstanding royalties owed and avoid paying fines for criminal charges possibly up AG Josh Shapiro’s courageous sleeves? The company’s timing is suspect.

2020: The Ballad of Josh Shapiro (Pennsylvania’s courageous Attorney General taking on health-harming, water-contaminating frac’ers)

2020: Cabot Oil and Gas gets frac’d! Pennsylvania AG Shapiro files 15 criminal charges, including 9 felonies, against Cabot for failing to fix gas wells that leaked methane over 9 square miles into 18 Dimock residential water supplies. “The Grand Jury presentments prove that Cabot took shortcuts that broke the law, and damaged our environment — harming our water supply and public health,”

2020: After Pennsylvania AG Shapiro’s 2 year investigation, frac’er Range Resources pleads “no contest” to environmental crimes, gets tiny slap ($50,000 in fines & $100,000 donation to an NGO to make the criminal look good).

2020: PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro expending significant investigave resources in pursuit of more than 12 criminal cases involving frac’ing: “some will result in criminal charges in the near future.” Any uncorrupted Attorney Generals in Canada courageous enough to take on frac crimes by Encana (Ovintiv)?

2019: Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro: Residents “have a state constitutional right to cl2019ean air and pure water.” Frac’d residents with flaming methane contaminated water too?

2019: Pennsylvania’s criminal investigation of frac harm cover-upper DEP: AG Josh Shapiro seeking investigative grand jurors from seven counties. How does one get criminal investigation into Encana illegally frac’ing a community’s drinking water aquifers with AER & Alberta govt covering it up, and bullying and shaming the harmed families?

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