DEP fines Chesapeake $1 million

One of the most active companies in Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling boom was fined more than $1 million on Tuesday, including a penalty that state officials called the single largest fine for an oil or gas operator in the state.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said the action stems from Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s contamination of private water supplies with methane in Bradford County and a February tank fire at a drilling site in Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania.

"It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment, take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with our regulations, and that their actions do not risk public health and safety or the environment," DEP Secretary Michael Krancer said in a statement.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake said it had voluntarily entered into two separate agreements with the DEP and improved its well construction practices, although it did not assume blame for methane gas migrating into wells.

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