Pa. court upholds $1.1M against natural gas corp in water contamination case

In this file photo, a drilling rig used to bore thousands of feet into the earth to extract natural gas from the Marcellus shale deep underground is seen on the hill above a reservoir in Houston, Pa. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

In this file photo, a drilling rig used to bore thousands of feet into the earth to extract natural gas from the Marcellus shale deep underground is seen on the hill above a reservoir in Houston, Pa. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

A Pennsylvania court is upholding a $1.1 million fine against natural gas exploration giant EQT Corp., saying there is substantial evidence that it recklessly violated environmental laws when a wastewater holding pond polluted streams and groundwater in 2012.

Monday’s Commonwealth Court decision faulted EQT’s construction of the pit at a Tioga County well site and its investigation into and response to the contamination, citing evidence the company “dragged its feet.”

The Department of Environmental Protection originally sought a record $4.5 million fine, but the state Supreme Court struck down the agency’s practice of compounding fines for each contaminated water body.

A DEP spokesman tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the agency is pleased with the decision. An EQT spokeswoman says it’s disappointed and will review the opinion to determine its next step.

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