Rock driller agrees to $12K fine after fuel spill

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Pennsylvania rock drilling company with a Morgantown office will pay a $12,360 civil administrative penalty for a diesel spill into White Day Creek, according to a consent order released Monday by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Precise Drilling, doing business as Rock Hammer HDD, is based in Mount Union, Pennsylvania, between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. It specializes in drilling rock, and the Department of Environmental Protection it serves the fiber optic industry.

According to the order, the DEP received a report on Oct. 16, 2018, of a diesel spill into a ditch near Rumbin Lane and in White Day Creek. DEP attempted over the next six days without success to determine who caused it.

While DEP’s Homeland Security Emergency Response was containing the release, Precise Drilling arrived and indicated the spill came from a pickup truck hauling a compressor which released the fuel while the truck was negotiating a turn in the road.

On Oct. 31, an environmental services contractor hire by Precise Drilling began hand digging the contaminated soil, and stopped on Nov. 2 without removing anything. DEP inspected on Nov. 9 and determined the cleanup wasn’t complete.

By Nov. 19, work had resumed but still wasn’t finished. On Dec. 10 DEP documented violations of four sections of the state Water Pollution Control Act and subsequently issued a Notice of Violation. Among the violations was failing to notify the Emergency Spill Line, failing to take immediate action and failing to remediate the spill from Oct. 16 through Nov. 18.

DEP returned on Dec. 11 and noted ongoing cleanup work and on Jan. 8 determined the site was properly remediated. DEP and Precise Drilling met on July 9 to discuss the terms and conditions of the consent order.

Along with the monetary penalty, Precise Drilling must submit for approval a plan of corrective action that includes provisions to properly report, contain and remediate all future spills. The company has agreed to pay the penalty and comply with the Water Pollution Control Act.

Final settlement of the order is subject to public comments received through Sept. 8.

Precise Drilling Manager Barb Green declined to comment on the consent order.

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