Trans Energy faces criminal charges for pollution

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Oil and gas company Trans Energy Inc. faces federal criminal charges for releasing natural gas drilling materials into streams and wetlands.


An information filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling alleges the St. Marys-based company lacked permits to dump into streams. The charges are misdemeanors.


On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $3 million civil settlement with Trans Energy. The money would be split between state and federal governments.


The company also agreed to restore portions of streams and wetlands damaged by its activity.


Monday’s announcement about the civil settlement did not mention the criminal charges filed three days earlier.


Federal officials say 15 West Virginia sites were polluted by the company’s unauthorized discharge of dredge or fill material. The alleged violations occurred between 2009 and 2011.


The Department of Justice says Trans Energy expects to spend $13 million in the consent agreement. The deal also resolves alleged violations of state law brought by the state Department of Environmental Protection.


The settlement requires a 30-day public comment period and district court approval.


Officials allege the company impounded streams and discharged sand, dirt, rocks and other materials into streams and wetlands.


The Charleston Gazette first reported the charges.


A Trans Energy representative did not immediately respond to a phone call and email requesting comment.


An information typically signals the defendant is cooperating with the investigation.


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