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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of West Virginia

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Local oil and gas company fined $600,000 for Clean Water Act violations

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Trans Energy, Inc., an oil and gas exploration company based in Pleasants County, West Virginia, was sentenced today to two years of probation and ordered to pay fines totaling $600,000.00 after the company admitted to multiple violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with its natural gas drilling activity, United States Attorney William J, Ihlenfeld, II, announced.

Trans Energy sought to capitalize on Marcellus Share natural gas resources in West Virginia. The company discharged materials such as rock, sand, soil and stone into streams in Marshall County, West Virginia to build large impoundments, or reservoirs of water, to supply water to nearby well sites. The reservoirs of water were subsequently used for Marcellus Shale drilling activity. Trans Energy further failed to properly train and supervise its employees and relied upon the unsubstantiated representations of a nearby property owner when determining whether environmental laws were being followed.

“Natural wetlands are essential for the overall health of the environment and of our communities,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in the Middle Atlantic States.  “In addition to providing habitat for hundreds of fish and animal species, wetlands filter and slow the flow of surface water, reducing the impact of flooding.  Today’s sentence demonstrates that EPA and its law enforcement partners will remain vigilant in protecting our nation’s wetlands and water supplies.”

Trans Energy admitted that it unlawfully dumped pollutants into Marshall County waterways when the company pled guilty in October 2014 to three counts of “Negligent Discharge of Pollutants without a Permit.” Trans Energy President John C. Corp executed the plea agreement on behalf of the company.

The Clean Water Act, also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, was enacted by Congress to restore and maintain the integrity of the Nation’s waters. It prohibits the discharge of pollutants from a point source into the waters of the United States without a permit. Discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States are prohibited unless authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Perri and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry McDaniel prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division led the investigation.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey presided.

Updated January 8, 2016