Following a Grand Jury investigation, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is formally charging National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation and subcontractor Southeast Directional Drilling with environmental crimes committed in Washington County, Pennsylvania. These companies are being charged for polluting an Unnamed Tributary to St. Patrick’s Run as well as groundwater in the area of Route 22 near 121 Campbell Road, Bulger, PA during the installation of transmission lines, which were intended to transport natural gas.
“I made a commitment to Pennsylvanians that I would protect their constitutional right to clean air and pure water. These companies turned a blind eye to that right and will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “In a report my office released last month, Grand Jurors made commonsense recommendations that need to be passed. The safety of Pennsylvanians and our natural resources cannot be jeopardized when companies with big influence and deep pockets take advantage of our land and water for profits and disregard people.”
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, in conjunction with the 45th Investigating Statewide Grand Jury, charged National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation with 2 counts of Prohibition of Discharge of Industrial Waste under the Clean Streams Law, 2 counts of Prohibition Against Other Pollutions under the Clean Streams Law, and one count of Unlawful Conduct under the Clean Streams Law. Southeast Directional Drilling was charged with 2 counts of Prohibition of Discharge of Industrial Waste under the Clean Streams Law, 2 counts of Prohibition Against Other Pollutions under the Clean Streams Law and one count of Unlawful Conduct under the Clean Streams Law.
Evidence obtained by the Grand Jury revealed that during pipeline installation, a small leak was discovered a little more than a month into the drilling and the decision was made to ignore it. Employees of the subcontractor, Southeast Directional Drilling, testified before the Grand Jury that their supervisors told them to “[pretend] they didn’t see it, more or less.” Employees also testified that when these spills occurred on other sites, “it is common within the industry to ‘look the other way’” and not report the incidents. They were directed to hide these incidents from the project’s daily reports. This leak led to the contamination of a local water supply.
The Grand Jury heard from Pennsylvanians living near the pipeline project and the impacts that the leaks had on their lives. A Washington County resident testified that, on the day the drilling fluid leaked, he noticed that the creek that ran through his property had turned grey and cloudy. He was forced to shut off his only source of drinking water in an effort to prevent the contaminants in the creek from entering his water well. He still cannot use the drinking water well on his property.
“For decades, Pennsylvanians saw the health consequences and environmental devastation that came with unchecked corporate greed, and passed laws to prioritize people over big investors. We should expand those laws, but today we’re doing all we can to protect the public and hold these companies accountable for impairing our water.” concluded Attorney General Shapiro.