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Noble Energy Marshall County flowback spill provokes cease operation order

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The Department of Environmental Protection announced March 8 that its Office of Oil and Gas has issued seven notices of violation and two orders to Noble Energy for its February spill of hydraulic fracturing flowback in Marshall County.

A centralized storage impoundment operated by Canonsburg, Pa.-based Noble Energy overflowed Feb. 22 into a tributary of Wheeling Creek, near Dallas, W.Va.

The notices of violation included allowing pollutants to flow into waters of the state; violating monitoring and emergency action plans; failure to maintain the pit in such a manner as to minimize adverse environmental effects; failing to maintain two feet of freeboard to minimize the risk of overtopping; and violating the state's water quality standards by discharging pollutants into a nearby stream and allowing industrial waste emanating from a point source to flow into waters of the state.

As a result of these violations, the Office of Oil and Gas also filed an order to cease operations to gain control of the pit; and an order that outlines the actions the company needs to take to abate the violations.

Noble is to provide an analysis of the released completion flowback fluid from the incident.

It also is required to propose a soil sampling and remediation plan to remove and dispose of any contaminated soil; propose a surface water sampling plan and plans for containment and removal of any pollutants found; identify water wells within 2,000 feet and submit a proposal to test the wells; and conduct an engineering evaluation of the centralized pit, then provide the agency with a certification by a professional engineer that states that the event did not impact the structural integrity of the centralized pit.