Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, to pay large CWA 404 civil penalty

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced on December 19, 2013, that Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, will pay a $3.2 million civil penalty and spend an EPA-estimated $6.5 million to restore 27 sites damaged by discharges of fill material into streams and wetlands and to implement a Clean Water Act (CWA) 404 compliance plan at the company’s natural gas extraction sites in West Virginia.

Of the 27 sites, four are freshwater impoundments, one is a compressor station, six involve operations related to vertical wells, and the remaining 16 sites involve operations related to horizontal drilling.

In addition to a civil penalty of $3.2 million, the Consent Order requires restoration where feasible, mitigation, employee training for five years in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and integration of a CWA Section 404 compliance protocol into its operating procedures in West Virginia.

According to EPA’s press release, the civil penalty is one of the largest ever imposed for violations of CWA 404. The penalty will be divided between the United States and West Virginia. More information, including the Consent Order, is available on EPA’s web site.

The consent decree, lodged on December 19 in the Northern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

This post was written by Janet McQuaid ( or +1 724 416 0427) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.