WILLIAMSPORT - The Department of Environmental Protection announced today that it has imposed a $34,000 fine on Chief Gathering LLC, of Dallas, Texas-a subsidiary of Chief Oil and Gas-for illegally discharging hydrostatic testing water at a pipeline project in Penn Township, Lycoming County, in August 2010.
Chief Gathering builds and operates natural gas pipelines. Hydrostatic tests involve placing water in a natural gas pipeline at the required pressure to ensure there are no leaks before it is placed into service.
In conjunction with the enforcement action, Chief agreed to voluntary surrender its discharge permit, and did so early in December.
"Chief clearly did not comply with the requirements of the DEP discharge permit that was issued to the company in February 2009," said DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber.
DEP's Water Management Program conducted an investigation on Aug. 12, after Chief notified the department that a hydrostatic water discharge had occurred the previous day-contrary to an earlier notification in which Chief indicated that no discharge would occur.
DEP inspectors determined that 21,000 gallons of hydrostatic testing water remained in storage on-site, but that an additional 25,200 gallons had already been discharged to the Big Run watershed. None of the discharged water reached any nearby surface streams.
The investigation revealed numerous other violations, including:
n Failure to minimize the flow rate from the discharge point and allowing the formation of a 150-foot erosion channel;
n Failure to submit accurate, detailed Notice of Intent project information;
n Discharging hydrostatic test water with a total chlorine residual greater than 0.05 parts per million;
n Allowing an unknown industrial waste to co-mingle in five storage tanks with the hydrostatic test water, which was subsequently discharged; and
n A failure to monitor the discharge for the specified effluent parameters at the minimum frequency required.
The department issued a notice of violation to Chief, and the company provided a detailed explanation regarding the event as well as corrective actions taken to prevent a recurrence.
The fine was paid to the Clean Water Fund, which helps to finance cleanups across the state.