Driller pays $1.2 million following ground, private water contamination in Pennsylvania

WPX Energy Appalachia has paid a $1.2 million civil penalty for oil and gas violations that affected groundwater and private water supplies in Westmoreland County.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said money from the penalty will go to the state’s well plugging fund, which plugs abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells that have the potential to cause health, safety or environmental concerns.
The penalty amount is based on the impacts to the water supplies and the severity of the leak, according to the DEP.
In September 2012, testing of five private water supplies indicated that they were impacted by a leak from WPX Energy Appalachia’s on-site impoundment into the groundwater.
The DEP said the impoundment was drained within a week of the leak being discovered.
Affected households were provided bottled water and treatment systems have been installed.
The DEP said it regularly evaluates those systems to ensure they are providing safe drinking water.
In addition to the civil penalty, DEP said the company is required to conclude the investigation into the extent of the impacts and remediate the site in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act.
This will include remediation of the soil, groundwater, and any surface waters impacted by the leak.
State regulators hope to address the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s warning of "serious public health implications" due to inadequate drinking water oversight by raising $7.5 million in new fees paid by public water systems.

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