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Justice Department investigates Chesapeake operations in West Virginia

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible Clean Water Act violations by Chesapeake Energy Corp. in West Virginia, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: March 2, 2012

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is facing possible criminal charges as the U.S. Department of Justice investigates whether the oil and natural gas producer violated the Clean Water Act in West Virginia.

Chesapeake is cooperating with the investigation, which it disclosed this week in a regulatory filing.

“We are working with the government to resolve potential violations at three sites in Marshall and Wetzel counties,” spokesman Michael D. Kehs said Thursday.

“These actions occurred primarily in 2008 and 2009, and are related to road maintenance and pond construction,” he said.

“Because an investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to offer further public comment at this time.”

Violations of the Clean Water Act are punishable by significant civil and criminal penalties, according to Chesapeake's filing, if the company is found guilty of putting fill material in a stream or wetland without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Civil penalties can be as high as $37,500 a day, while the penalty for a felony violation can be up to $50,000 a day.

Chesapeake indicated it could face monetary sanctions exceeding $100,000, but was unable to estimate the amount of fines that could be imposed in the matter, according to its filing.


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