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CNX Agrees to Upgrade Washington County Fish Habitat to Resolve Well Violations

CNX has agreed to make $180,000 worth of improvements to the streambank and fish habitats along Mingo Creek in Mingo Creek County Park in Washington County to resolve erosion and sediment control violations at seven well sites.

The consent order, announced last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, allows CNX to make the improvements instead of paying a civil penalty for the violations in Washington and Greene counties. The company must also correct and remediate the environmental damage that resulted.

A press release from DEP states that “CNX failed to take required measures to ensure that these sites were constructed in a manner to prevent off-site sediment discharges.” Those measures included failing to follow best management practices, failing to stabilize the sites and failing to take post-construction stormwater measures.

As a result, the sites were not adequately stabilized, causing sediment runoff, and in some instances, discharges into streams. Two of the sites are in East Finley Township and one site is in South Franklin Township, both in Washington County, and four sites are in Richhill Township, Greene County. The violations occurred between July 2017 and September 2018.

The DEP oversees erosion and sedimentation permits, which are needed before earth is disturbed at a well site. The permits require companies to use erosion and sedimentation controls and stormwater management best practices to prevent erosion and keep sediment from running into waterways, where it can be detrimental to the environment and aquatic life.

The press release states that CNX will provide at least $180,000 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which will do 2,500 linear feet of streambank stabilization and installation of fish habitat structures along Mingo Creek, which is a high-quality, trout-stocked stream. The work will increase recreational opportunities and reduce sediment entering the creek.

“Instead of collecting the civil penalty of $180,000, the department allowed CNX to pay the penalty amount to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to fund a Community Environmental Project (CEP),” said DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley in an email. “DEP routinely considers CEPs to directly improve the environment in or near communities where the violations occurred in a way that is tangible and consistent with the department’s mission when and where appropriate and feasible. Here, the CEP located in Washington County was proposed by CNX and approved by the department.”

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