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DEP Orders Shutdown At Marshall Drilling Site

List of violations includes chemical release in stream

December 15, 2011
By CASEY JUNKINS Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

GLEN EASTON - Citing an "imminent danger" to people, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ordered Chesapeake Energy to stop operating at the Ray Baker well pad in southern Marshall County.

This is the same pad the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers are requiring Chesapeake to repair because of slipping soil and "discharging pollutants into the adjacent stream."

"This seems to have been a problem site from the beginning. There have been a number of issues," said department spokeswoman Kathy Cosco regarding the site along Valley Run Road. "They have been ordered to cease operation on all wells at that pad until these issues are addressed."

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has suspended Chesapeake Energy from drilling for natural gas at the Ray Baker well pad in southern Marshall County.

Stacey Brodak, Chesapeake corporate development director, said the company stopped working on the wells earlier this year - prior to the department's Dec. 7 order - as workers sought to fix the pad.

"The complex design and extensive earth-moving work necessary to restore the Baker pad slips are expected to take several months or longer," said Brodak. "We continue to work diligently at the site to remove mud and debris from slips, and continue to work closely with the appropriate regulatory agencies involved."

Records show the DEP originally cited Chesapeake for "pollution of the waters of the state" at the Baker site in February. Additional citations for, among others, creating an "imminent danger," at the site came in October. These citations preceded those from earlier this month for similar problems.

"There are a number of issues with this whole pad," added Cosco. The department believes it will take Chesapeake a year to correct the problems before the company can resume drilling, she said.

"We recognize there are weather issues this time of year, but we are requiring them to give us weekly updates," she added.

Brodak previously said Chesapeake is working "around the clock to reinforce and restore the Ray Baker site in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."

In order to resume operations at the pad, the department is requiring Chesapeake to:

-- Properly secure all well heads and install protective cages around them.

-- Remove the sediment and debris from the road and unnamed stream.

-- Reclaim all affected areas to ensure a stable slope.

-- Install erosion and sediment control devices.

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