The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Houston, Texas-based energy company Belden and Blake Corporation have agreed to settle a series of alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, which will have to pay a $42,504 fine.
Belden and Blake Corp. owns fracking operations in several states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. The EPA claimed that the company failed to comply with regulations put in place to prevent accidental releases of potentially hazardous chemicals at its natural gas liquid extraction plant at Bradford, Pa.
The EPA first started an investigation into Belden and Blake operations at the site in September 2011, when it issued an administrative order to the company, requiring it to take measures to prevent the release of flammable chemicals that could pose a threat to the environment and to workers and residents in the area. Belden and Blake has already started acting by installing protecting piping to its 10,000-gallon gas storage tank. Moreover, the company has been going through a detailed hazard review of the entire equipment in the facility and is now providing training for its staff, the EPA explained in a press release. However, upon agreeing on the settlement with the agency, the company did not confirm or deny the EPA's allegations.
Belden and Blake's facility in Bradford is licensed to store and handle flammable substances. The company conducts a series of processes, including separation of propane, butane, ethane and isobutene from the extracted natural gas by using compressors and a process skid. Once the gases are separated they are stored at the 10,000-gallon storage tank, weighing as much as 67,000 pounds when full. The gases are later transported to other facilities for further processing.
According to official documents, Belden and Blake Corp, a subsidiary of Capital C Energy Operations, L.P., is an independent energy company which acquires, exploits, develops, produces and operates oil and natural gas properties. At present, the company is focused on its operations in the Appalachian Basin in Ohio, the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and in the Antrim Shale Formation in the Michigan Basin. Data from Bloomberg reveals that, as of December 31, 2010, Belden and Blake owned interests in 3,463 net productive oil and gas wells with proved reserves estimated to reach a combined 202.4 billion cubic feet equivalent, including 171.6 billion cubic feet equivalent of natural gas and 5.1 million barrels of oil. The company also owns about 1,600 miles of natural gas gathering lines, which are linked to a number of intrastate and interstate natural gas transmission systems. It also owns leases on 415,953 net acres, with 261,456 of those net undeveloped acres.