WHEELING, W.Va. -- Chesapeake Appalachia has pleaded guilty to three criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act for destroying a Wetzel County waterfall while drilling a well near Proctor.U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld says Chesapeake will pay $600,000 in fines under the plea agreement entered Friday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling.Chesapeake pleaded guilty to three counts of illegally discharging 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel into Blake Fork at least three times in December 2008, then spreading that material to build a road related to natural gas drilling activities in the area.Inspectors found the problem in 2010.
Chesapeake is being fined $200,000 per violation. It announced last December that the waterfall had been restored.The parties also agreed that separate violations for impoundments in Marshall and Wetzel counties would be addressed with civil penalties instead of criminal charges. Those violations occurred at three other sites in 2008, 2009, and 2010, court records show. Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said the company "remains fully committed to regulatory compliance" and promptly instituted additional training and oversight "to help ensure that our regulatory obligations are met."