The Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas has issued orders to cease operations to Antero Resources Appalachian Corp., which is based in Denver, Colo., and Bronco Drilling Company, based in Edmond, Okla., for an incident in which drill cuttings were washed into Indian Run in Harrison County.
The DEP also issued five Notices of Violation to Antero and one to Bronco Drilling.
This incident occurred at Antero’s O. Rice well pad, located about three miles north of Salem, and was reported to the Office of Oil and Gas Monday, March 21 at around 9:15 a.m. Two inspectors investigated the site, where they found evidence indicating that drilling mud had flowed into Indian Run. Drilling mud is used in the drilling process to remove cuttings from the well bore. There was no evidence of a fish kill in the stream.
As a result of their inspection, the OOG staff took the following actions:
Antero was ordered to cease operations at the O. Rice pad until the company can demonstrate to the OOG an understanding of the cause of the failure to contain materials on the site; the ability to reasonablly contain any free liquids, including drilling fluids, cuttings and other wastes on the site and to prevent them from escaping the pad; submit a proposal for soil sampling and remediation to remove and dispose of any contaminated soil from the pad; submit a proposal for surface water sampling, including plans for containment and removal of any pollutants found; and submit a proposal for testing and monitoring all water wells within a 2,000-foot radius of the pad, or methods for groundwater testing and monitoring if no such water wells exist.
The Notices of Violations that led the agency to order the company to cease operations included:
- Failure to notify the OOG after a reportable discharge;
- Failure to use every possible precaution to prevent the pollution of the waters of the state;
- Failure to make adequate provision to prevent surface and underground water pollution;
- Failure to construct or maintain a drilling site to confine all materials leaked or spilled in the drilling process; and
- Allowing pollutants to flow into the waters of the state.
Bronco’s Notice of Violation for allowing pollutants to flow into the waters of the state led the agency to order the company to cease operations on all well pads in the state until the company developed a spill prevention plan for all current and future activities in the state.
On Thursday, March 24, Bronco and the DEP reached an agreement through a Consent Order that abated the company’s violations and lifted the Cease Order. Bronco provided the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas a spill prevention plan; made corrections at its active drilling sites and agreed to pay a $15,000 civil administrative penalty.
As a result of Thursday’s Consent Order, Bronco will be allowed to resume operations at activities elsewhere in the state. However, because the order to Cease Operations with Antero is still in place, the O. Rice well is still idle.