PA DEP Revokes Two Permits to Gas Companies and Issues Violation Letters to Three Lisenced Professionals
Williamsport – The Department of Environmental Protection has revoked three erosion and sedimentation control general permits previously issued to Ultra Resources Inc. and Fortuna Energy Inc. due to technical deficiencies, and has sent notice of violation letters to the three licensed professionals who prepared the applications.
“DEP took this action because of numerous technical deficiencies discovered after our approval of the permits,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell. The erosion and sedimentation control general permits are required whenever more than five acres of earth will be disturbed during construction of natural gas well drilling pads or natural gas pipelines.
As part of an expedited permit review process that DEP announced earlier this year, a licensed professional engineer, surveyor, geologist or landscape architect must submit a notice of intent and supporting documentation to DEP, including a certification that the information submitted meets the permit requirements.
DEP staff performs an administrative completeness review, but relies on the professional’s certification that the application is technically correct and meets all the permit requirements.
The technical deficiencies in both permits included inaccurate calculations, failure to provide best management practices where required, and lack of proper technical detail.
The permit revocations mean that Ultra Resources and Fortuna Energy must immediately halt all earth disturbance activities at the sites except those necessary to install or maintain erosion and sediment control or post-construction and site restoration best management practices.
The Ultra Resources permit was for sites in Gaines and Elk townships, Tioga County, and Pike and Abbott townships, Potter County. The Fortuna permit covered sites in Ward and Jackson townships, Tioga County.
Neither company is eligible to re-submit notices of intent requesting the expedited permit process for those locations.
The three permits were appealed to the state Environmental Hearing Board by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in August and September, prompting DEP officials to re-examine the permits to determine if they met the regulatory requirements.In its letter to the three licensed professionals, DEP warns that additional enforcement action may be taken against them, including possible referral to the Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs for disciplinary action.
The licensed professionals receiving the letters include James Gensel of Fagan Engineers in Elmira, N.Y.; Karl Matz of Larson Design Group Inc. in Williamsport; and K. Robert Cunningham of Cunningham Surveyors in Wellsboro. For more information, call 570-327-3659 or visit www.depweb.state.pa.us keyword: Oil and gas.