Trans Energy Convicted Of Clean Water Act Violations
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WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Trans Energy, Inc. entered guilty pleas to three violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with its natural gas drilling activity in Northern West Virginia, according to United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II.
Trans Energy pled guilty this afternoon to three counts of “Negligent Discharge of Pollutants without a Permit,” admitting that it dumped pollutants into waterways found in Marshall County, West Virginia. The company agreed that it discharged materials such as rock, sand, soil and stone into streams at Wolf Run, the North Fork of Grave Creek, and the Left Fork of Maggoty Run, all for the purpose of creating impoundments. The water from the impoundments was subsequently used by Trans Energy for Marcellus Shale drilling activity. Trans Energy admitted that it failed to properly train and supervise its employees and that it relied upon the unsubstantiated representations of a nearby property owner when determining whether environmental laws were being followed.
“Altering wetlands can significantly impact water quality and wildlife,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in West Virginia. “By holding violators accountable, EPA is protecting valuable wetlands as well as the communities around them. This case is a direct result of the strong working relationship between our federal and state enforcement partners.”
The plea agreement calls for Trans Energy to pay a fine of $200,000 for each conviction, for a total fine of $600,000. It also requires that Trans Energy be placed onto probation for two years and be under the supervision of the Court during that time period. The parties agreed that separate violations committed by Trans Energy and occurring in connection with two other impoundments constructed in Marshall County would be addressed by civil penalties.
John G. Corp, President of Trans Energy, signed the plea agreement on behalf of the company, which was formed and organized pursuant to the laws of the State of Nevada.
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 any pollutant 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 a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by David J. Perri, Assistant United States Attorney, and Perry D. McDaniel, Special Assistant United States Attorney.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert presided.