Prove your humanity

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced a $650,000 settlement with a natural gas storage operator for violations at an underground gas reservoir that sits beneath a planned coal mine in Greene County. 

The Swarts storage field is an old, depleted oil and gas formation that lies less than 2,000 beneath what will soon be an active part of  a coal mine. Equitrans Midstream Corporation pumps pressurized gas into the field to store it for later delivery.

Consol plans to extend the Harvey Mine into the area above the Swarts Field, in Morris and Washington townships, later this year. 

Under state law, operators of oil and gas storage fields that lie within 2,000 feet of a coal mine must submit maps of all wells into the site and plug or recondition some wells, to prevent gas from escaping the field. 

According to the Consent Order and Agreement signed by the DEP and Equitrans, the company failed to submit complete reports on gas wells into the site. 

As part of the agreement, Equitrans will identify all remaining wells in the storage field and plug any that it needs to under state law. 

In 2013, Consol told EQT, the predecessor to Equitrans, that it would be extending the Harvey Mine into the area, according to the agreement. 

EQT submitted reports to the state on wells in the area over the next few years, but in 2018 the Department issued an order to the company — by then Equitrans — for failing to submit timely or complete reports identifying all wells on site. The DEP had threatened to shut down the storage field if the company did not comply with the order.

Neither Equitrans nor Consol responded to a request for comment.

This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.