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Our look at
BLAKE RUN FALLS
WEST VIRGINIA

UPDATES

October 5, 2012 - Chesapeake Energy pleaded guilty in federal court today to 3 violations of the Clean Water Act, admitting it had dumped 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into the Blake Fork stream on three different occasions in 2008. Contractors hired by Chesapeake discharged gravel from dump trucks into Blake Fork when developing access roads to a natural gas drilling site in Wetzel County. Each violation carries a $200,000 fine, so Chesapeake will pay a total of $600,000. The company will also be placed on probation and supervised by the court for two years. 
(Erich Schwartzel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

December 10, 2011 - Following orders from the U.S. EPA, Chesapeake Energy restored the waterfall that was removed as part of Chesapeake's drilling activities. The agency continues to investigate Chesapeake for allegedly violating the federal Clean Water Act in Wetzel County between Jan. 2007 and Nov. 2010. EPA has the ability to fine Chesapeake as much as $50,000 per day for allegedly removing the waterfall to create a gravel road in the stream channel of Blake Fork. (Story)

August 16, 2011 - Chesapeake Energy is still working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to resolve the company's allegedly unauthorized filling of streams and waterfall removal in Wetzel County. According to the orders, EPA has the ability to fine Chesapeake as much as $200,000 per day for the work, which included the alleged removal of a waterfall to create a gravel road in the stream channel of Blake Fork, about 2.4 miles north of the intersection of W.Va. 89, near Proctor. Blake Fork and three other streams affected by Chesapeake's drilling activities are tributaries of Fish Creek, which flows into the Ohio River. (Story)

 
WEST VIRGINIA -- Imagine having your favorite photo spot suddenly turn into a gravel road. That is exactly what happened in northern West Virginia when Chesapeake Energy developed a nearby well site.

According to a Chesapeake spokesperson, the waterfall and stream shown in the photos below were already a road. But according to local residents, this is yet another travesty of environmental degradation by the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry.

The sequence of "before," "after," and "after-after" photos below paint a better picture than words ever can say, so here they are for you to judge:

Photos taken by Ed Wade Jr. of the
Wetzel County Action Group ©2013

 
 

 
 

 

From a nearby resident:
"I guess this is their idea of reclaiming - they removed most of the gravel, but the rock shelf has been broken off, and they just moved some of the big rocks back into the creek."

Chesapeake spokeswoman:
"It was already a road."

Reality:
West Virginia's DEP took no enforcement action against Chesapeake Energy for this incident. The US EPA Region 3 Criminal & Civil staff are taking the lead.


Ed Wade, Jr. in a photo of the Falls following the 2nd restoration:

Ed Wade, Jr. describes it this way:
Since 2007 when gas drilling began in northern Wetzel County WV, Chesapeake Energy, the second largest gas developer in the region, took advantage of the resources in the Silver Hill area. When I saw what they did overnight to the falls in Blake Run, well, letís just say it straight up made me, and several others, upset. As far as it being a road, I and many others have checked the Department of Highways (DOH) map all the way back to the early 1900ís; not one showed County Rd 1/13 going down that portion of the creek. Even though the DOH did permit Chesapeake to do such work, I would have to say they ran off the road.

Many of the gas companies waste so much money by not thinking things through the first time Ė like the removal of the falls. If Chesapeake were truly the "Champion of Natural Beauty," as their ad claims, they would not have destroyed the falls and would have saved themselves a lot of money. No local or State officials wanted to accept that they allowed this to occur. Only when I contacted the US EPA did any enforcement action take place.

Blake Run Falls West Virginia
Restoration work proceeds

Chesapeake had to remove several loads of limestone from the falls and hundreds of feet of the creek bed. GAI was the consultant for the fallsí rebuild and removal of the stone, with contractor Anderson Excavating out of Morgantown, WV. Both parties treated the falls and creek like a new-born baby. I spent almost three weeks at the site with those men, daylight to dark, in some very cold, wet days; some mornings the creek would have ice on its sides. Those 2 companies did a good job and let me be a part of it all, which I thank them for. Iíd like to think that Chesapeake and the other gas companies that watched this unfold all learned a lesson.


Ed Wade, Jr (center)

Let me also add that no matter who you are, young or old, you can make a difference. Let your conscience be your guide.

Ed Wade Jr. - Wetzel County Action Group
http://www.wcag-wv.org/

Define Road... 1. a long, narrow stretch with a smoothed or paved surface, made for traveling by motor vehicle, carriage,etc., between two or more points; street or highway.


  
 
  

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