PA Court Says Range Impoundment Did NOT Contaminate Water Well

Gavel-falling.jpgYou may recall that for some time we’ve been following the back and forth between Range Resources and their (former) wastewater impoundments in Washington County, PA. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined Range a whopping $4.15 million for violations in September 2014 (see PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments). Some of the nearby neighbors claimed that Range’s leaky impoundments (a quarter of a mile away) contaminated their water wells. One of those landowners was Loren Kiskadden, who is suing Range in civil court. The problem is, the DEP found that the nearby Yeager impoundment had not contaminated Kiskadden’s well, which led to allegations that the DEP had bungled the investigation (see Did DEP Mishandle Range Wastewater Impoundment Investigation?). Kiskadden had to press on, because if the DEP doesn’t reverse its finding, he has no civil case against Range. Press on he did (see Hearing on Range Yeager Impoundment/Water Contamination Continues). The matter was heard by the DEP’s Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). The EHB found that Kiskadden didn’t have a case–his well was not contaminated by Range’s impoundment. So Kiskadden and his lawyers asked for a re-hearing. The result of that re-hearing came back in December and (we thought) closed the door, once and for all, on the case (see DEP Final Determination: Range Didn’t Pollute Kiskadden Water Well). But no, that was not the end. Kiskadden appealed again. Last week a Commonwealth Court appeals panel affirmed the EHB’s 2015 dismissal of Kiskadden’s appeal of the DEP 2011 ruling that Range’s Yeager site operations did not contaminate Kiskadden’s well water. Have we finally reached the end of this drawn-out saga?…
Continue reading

Range Re-Opens 2 of 3 Water Impoundments in Washington County, PA

Last September Range Resources was fined $4.15 million for a series of violations at eight water impoundments they operate in southwestern PA (see PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments). As part of the deal worked out with the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) under then-Sec. Chris Abruzzo, Range agreed to shut down five of the eight impoundments. Actually, all eight of the impoundments ceased operation either during or prior to last September. Two of the remaining three impoundments–the “Carter” and “Carol Baker” impoundments–are now back up and running. The Carter impoundment is handling only fresh water these days, while the Carol Baker impoundment has been upgraded and once again handles wastewater. The remaining “Jon Day” impoundment is being upgraded to begin handling wastewater again, when the weather breaks…
Continue reading

PA Family Sues Range Resources over Nearby Drilling, Impoundment

Range Resources has for years been battling allegations that their wastewater impoundments in Washington County, PA have leaked and polluted nearby water wells. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) investigated and in September levied a $4.15 million fine against Range, requiring the company to close five of seven impoundments (see PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments). Along the way several landowners have sued Range–over the impoundments and over nearby drilling. Add one more to the list: The Lauff family in Mt. Pleasant Township has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by Range in the way they drilled several nearby wells and in their operation of a wastewater impoundment…
Continue reading

Hearing on Range Yeager Impoundment/Water Contamination Continues

More from the ongoing hearing into the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection’s actions, or lack of actions, in determining a private water well 2,800 feel (half a mile) downhill from a Range Resources wastewater impoundment that was found to be leaky was fouled by that impoundment. We previously explained that in order for a lawsuit by the landowner Loren Kiskadden against Range for “contaminating” his water well to be valid, the DEP must reverse a previous finding that Range’s Yeager impoundment did not foul his well (see Did DEP Mishandle Range Wastewater Impoundment Investigation?). So one of the DEP’s investigators has been on the hot seat explaining his previous findings and reports…
Continue reading

Did DEP Mishandle Range Wastewater Impoundment Investigation?

Range Resources has had a long-running dispute with some of the neighbors near some of it’s wastewater impoundments in Washington, PA. Without recounting the details (see MDN’s previous stories here), the entire thing came to a head recently when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) completed their investigation and fined Range the highest amount any driller has paid so far in the modern shale drilling era (see PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments). Part of the deal is that Range is closing those impoundments. There are, of course, legal actions involved, as you might expect. One of the neighbors near the Yeager impoundment sued Range with claims of well water contamination from chemicals leaking from the impoundment. The DEP determined the landowner’s well was not contaminated by the Range impoundment and the landowner challenged that finding in DEP’s version of court, the Environmental Hearing Board. Testimony at the hearing last week from a DEP official about the investigation indicates the DEP “might have used incomplete and inaccurate test information to decide whether chemicals leaking…contaminated a water well and springs”…
Continue reading

PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments

taken to the woodshedRange Resources has just had their knuckles rapped, hard, by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) with respect to wastewater/recycled water impoundments (i.e. ponds) they operate in Washington County, PA. Range has been fined the most any company has been fined by the DEP in the modern shale era–$4.15 million. They will also be required to close five of the seven impoundments they’ve operated in the county (Range was closing them anyway), and make major upgrades to the two remaining impoundments. There’s no way to sugarcoat this–Range was taken to the proverbial woodshed by the DEP and got a lot more than a switch to the rear-end…
Continue reading

Range Resources to Begin Closing Yeager Impoundment on Monday

As we promised two weeks ago, we have more news and developments on Range Resources’ Yeager Wastewater Impoundment in Amwell Township (Washington County), PA. Range will begin the process of decommissioning the impoundment (i.e. pond) starting Monday, August 18th. As they do so, a lawyer for the three families suing Range with charges of well water contamination will be at the site to take their own so-called “independent” soil samples, right alongside Range. What Range (and the lawyer) will be looking for is any evidence that the two rubber liners have, in the past, leaked wastewater and therefore salts or chlorides, into the ground. Below we have a brief backgrounder, a copy of the Range 98-page plan to close the Yeager impoundment, and the recommended tweaks to that plan by the state DEP…
Continue reading

Range Sets Record Straight on Cecil 23 Impoundment & Chlorides

Last week MDN outlined the latest kerfuffle in Cecil Township (Washington County), PA between Range Resources and the town over allegations that the Cecil 23 wastewater impoundment may have, at some point, leaked (see More Problems for Range Resources with SWPA Impoundments). The “evidence” of such a leak is a single monitoring well that showed slightly high levels of chlorides, or salts. Rather than wait for the state Dept. of Environmental Protection to alert neighbors that they would be visiting to do some testing, Cecil officials took matters in their own hands and distributed letters to some 50 nearby residents–scaring them. Range responded by distributing their own letter–something necessary to set the record straight. We have a copy of that letter to share with you…
Continue reading

More Problems for Range Resources with SWPA Impoundments

Range Resources has had ongoing problems with the neighbors and townships where they’ve built and maintained several frack wastewater impoundments (large ponds) in Washington County, PA for the past several years. MDN has chronicled the push back, threats, lawsuits and shenanigans (see our list of Range impoundment stories here). The saga continues. Late last week residents living near the Cecil 23 impoundment–formerly known as the Worstell impoundment, located in Cecil Township–were informed by the town that the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be testing the ground (and water supplies?) following an alert from Range that the impoundment may have leaked in the past. Then, on Tuesday of this week, Range received a Notice of Violation from the DEP for leaks found at the Yeager impoundment in Amwell Township…
Continue reading

Low Levels of Radiation Found in Range PA Wastewater Impoundment

radiation.jpgVery low levels of radiation were present in leftover sludge from a tank where wastewater is stored at a Range Resources wastewater impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township (Washington County), PA. The good news is that rigorous testing, as Range and others do, caught the issue. The better news is that the radiation levels are so low, they’re barely above “background levels” and you would literally have to sleep next to the tank for years to be affected. In other words, it’s a non-issue, something that doesn’t happen often but when it does, the industry handles it.

Of course if you live near the impoundment and your anti-drilling, you over dramatize it and make it seem as though you’ll be glowing in the dark any day now…
Continue reading

Mt. Pleasant Zoning Bd Says Range Water Impoundments in Violation

Starting last August, Range Resources has been in a battle with the board of supervisors for Mt. Pleasant Township in Washington County, PA. The issue, the bone of contention, has been four water impoundments–three of which are for fresh water, essentially ponds (see Range Resources Argues with Mt Pleasant over Water Impoundment). The impoundments were originally used to drill nearby Marcellus Shale wells, several years ago. Since then, Range has continued using them, but now uses them to drill wells that are not nearby, in Mt. Pleasant Township. And the supervisors object.

In December it appeared there was a sliver of good news when the township said Range could proceed with converting one of the impoundments to an above ground enclosed tank impoundment for recycled waste water, subject to certain terms and conditions (see Range Strikes Deal with Mt Pleasant for 1 of 4 Water Impoundments). It now seems that was a bit too optimistic. On Monday the Mt. Pleasant Zoning Hearing Board (different group of people from the board of supervisors) voted unanimously to uphold notices of violation issued by the township’s zoning officer against the four Range impoundments, so here we go again…
Continue reading

Range Strikes Deal with Mt Pleasant for 1 of 4 Water Impoundments

Finally a happy ending in the ongoing kerfuffle over the fate of our water impoundments (“ponds”) in Mt. Pleasant (Washington County), PA. For a long time now MDN has reported on the back and forth between Range Resources, who operates the impoundments, and the local town board over whether those impoundments can continue to operate now that the wells they were intended to support have been drilled. As recently as September the town was telling Range to stuff it (see Mt Pleasant Tells Range Resources “No Deal” on Water Impoundments).

However, after continuing negotiations, the two sides struck a deal last week for one of the four impoundments. At least it’s a start…
Continue reading

Mt Pleasant Tells Range Resources “No Deal” on Water Impoundments

An update of the ongoing kerfuffle between Range Resources and their four water impoundments (i.e. ponds) and Mt. Pleasant Township officials in Washington County, PA (for background, see Range Water Impoundment Public Hearing Postponed 2nd Time). Mt. Pleasant recently served Range with zoning violation notices for the four impoundments–they want them all closed. Range recently proposed a compromise that would allow them to keep three of the four impoundments open.

The town board of supervisors met and discussed Range’s proposal during a rare Saturday session–and said “no thanks” to the proposal…
Continue reading

Range Water Impoundment Public Hearing Postponed 2nd Time

In August MDN told you about the latest kerfuffle between Range Resources and Mt. Pleasant township in Washington County, PA. Range had built and maintains four water impoundments (think “pond”)–one for frack wastewater and three for fresh water storage. Range uses the impoundments to store and haul water to/from drill sites for use in fracking (see Range Resources Argues with Mt Pleasant over Water Impoundment). Residents object to the impoundments on the grounds that their original use–drilling wells in that immediate area–is long over. Range continues to use them to drill other wells, not only in Washington County but also in Ohio and West Virginia. Residents say Range has overstayed their welcome with the impoundments.

A public hearing was continued from August to September when the public didn’t get a chance to vent at the August meeting. Last night, the hearing was continued yet again–to October–because Range wants a witness to appear at the hearing that couldn’t make it last night…
Continue reading

Range Resources Argues with Mt Pleasant over Water Impoundment

Range Resources seems to have a problem maintaining good relations with southwestern PA townships on the matter of water impoundments. In May, MDN told you about Cecil Township’s concerns over a 15 million-gallon water impoundment still actively used by Range even though the three gas wells at the impoundment site were drilled long ago (see Cecil, PA Supervisors Want Better Relations with Range, but…). Range had another tangle with a town board last night–this one in Mt. Pleasant Township. The same issue has once again appeared: a water impoundment is being used not for the wells drilled at the site, but for other wells being drilled in the region.

According to Cecil and now Mt. Pleasant officials, Range has the habit of expanding the use of water impoundments from their original intent. Range says the water impoundments are properly regulated by the state and not the towns. Who’s right?
Continue reading

Range Resources Forced to Cop to Environmental “Crimes” in SWPA

After spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate Range Resources over a simple regulatory matter settled years ago by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, PA’s leftist Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, announced on Friday he had finally bullied Range into pleading “no contest” to so-called environmental crimes (misdemeanors), forcing the company to pay $50,000 in fines and $100,000 to Shapiro’s favorite Big Green charities. Does that sound like a success to you? Shapiro spent multiple hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to force the company to pay $150K. Sounds like Shapiro is The Biggest Loser to us.
Continue reading