07/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/24/2020 08:27
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
Lauren Fraley, DEP
'For DEP, enforcing environmental laws goes beyond correcting violations and collecting civil penalties,' said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. 'The department successfully uses these agreements to gather data used to improve our industry oversight and drive operational changes beyond what the law requires to strengthen environmental safeguards more broadly.'
CNX owns and operates the wastewater pipelines associated with the Morris to McQuay Phase 2 Reroute Pipeline project. CNXM is the permittee of two erosion and sediment control general permits (ESCGP) authorizations for earth disturbance associated with the construction of the natural gas gathering pipelines and waste fluid waterlines for reuse in well development activities in East Finley Township, Washington County.
From August 26, 2016, to August 16, 2018, DEP noted several violations associated with the pipeline project, which include:
Notably on August 16, 2018, CNX reported another brine spill from a buried waste waterline on the MOR 31 to Morris to McQuay Phase 2 Reroute that impacted an unnamed tributary ('UNT') to Enlow Fork. CNX does not know the date that the release started but estimated that the leak released 50 barrels (2,100 gallons) of brine. CNX excavated the waste waterline the next day, revealing a four- to six-inch crack at a weld location, which leaked brine into the excavated trench. By August 30, 2018, CNX excavated impacted soil, collected confirmation soil samples, and began backfilling the area with clean fill.
DEP's compliance staff observed areas of stressed and dead vegetation and elevated conductivity readings in the area and a groundwater seep in the tributary and issued a compliance order requiring the identification and monitoring of all water supplies within 3,000 feet of the release area and a plan to install monitoring wells to characterize groundwater impacts caused by the release.
To comply with the order, CNX submitted information to DEP that revealed inadequacies with the preparation and implementation of the operator's PPC plans that limited the plan to construction of pipelines and totally failed to identify the waste fluids transported or measures to monitor or respond to pipeline releases. CNX characterized the soil near the spill area, identified and sampled ten water supplies in the vicinity of the release, and found the results comparable to pre-release sample data. CNX also installed three wells to monitor groundwater and reported data that demonstrated constituents associated with the brine spill were below their respective applicable Act 2 Medium Specific Concentrations (MSC). DEP approved the Act 2 final report for substances remediated.
'While utilizing reuse water in drilling operations is authorized by DEP's regulations, the department holds operators to their obligation to use caution and implement safeguards to protect Pennsylvania communities and water resources,' added McDonnell.