Antero Resources Corporation agreed to pay the U.S. government and state of West Virginia $3.15 million for violations of the Clean Water Act that allegedly polluted the environment in 32 locations across northern West Virginia.
The settlement underscores some of the environmental hazards that the fracking industry is unleashing on public lands. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Antero illegally disposed of dredged and fill materials used in the fracking process into U.S. waters or near sites where the company had constructed well pads, compressor stations, impoundments, pipeline crossings, access roads, and other structures associated with its hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas.
Federal prosecutors said that Antero’s unauthorized activities impacted more than 19,000 linear feet of streams and more than four acres of wetlands and included impounding or damming streams; filing wetlands and streams for compressor station pads; realigning and culverting segments of streams; and failing to fully restore the “temporary” impacts it had on the environment.
The 32 sites marred by Antero activities are located across Harrison, Doddridge and Tyler Counties in West Virginia
The settlement filed in a federal court in West Virginia requires Antero to pay a civil penalty of $3.15 million and to conduct restoration, stabilization and mitigation work at the affected sites. Antero must also work to mitigate its impacts on aquatic resources, the Justice Department said.
For a fracking company like Antero, the settlement amounts to little more than a slap on the hand. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has been intent on loosening environmental regulations for some of the nation’s worst polluters, estimates the cost of the proposed mitigation and remediation efforts to cost $8 million.