Trio charged with illegal frack water dumping
MUNCY – The owner of an area trucking company, along with two of his employees, has been charged with dumping thousands of gallons of gas drilling waste water onto the company’s grounds without first getting the required state permits, according to the state attorney general’s office.
James K. Stolte, 55, the owner of Clark Trucking and Excavating, 657 Industrial Parkway in Muncy Creek Township; along with Andrew W. Miller, 38, the company’s manager; and company dispatcher James Daniel Kinnard, 30, have been charged with three misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s solid waste management act.
The charges were filed by Paul A. Zimmerer, a supervisory special agent with the Environmental Crimes Section of the state attorney general’s office. It is alleged that Stolte, Kinnard and Miller were involved in “transporting drilling mud and gas well waste water, as well as reclaimed water, to its business property and illegally dumping it,” Zimmerer wrote in an eight-page affidavit.
In response to the growth of the Marcellus Shale industry in the area, Stolte started the trucking company in May 2010 “to haul fresh water, gas well waste water, landfill leachate and drilling mud,” Zimmerer said, adding that the company “grew to 100 employees and 27 tanker trucks.”
The facility is part of the Muncy Industrial Park complex.
As part of his investigation, Zimmerer interviewed former company truck drivers who reported seeing waste water being dumped on the company’s grounds.
One former driver, Alan Van Pelt, told Zimmerer that he saw Kinnard “emptying a 5,500-gallon tanker truck containing truck wash waste water onto the ground. Kinnard told Van Pelt he was draining the waste water onto the ground because the truck was needed to haul fresh water.”
Another former employee, Michael Snyder, reported that truck drivers would return to the company with tanker trucks “loaded with fresh water, gas well waste water and truck wash waste water. (Employees would then) transfer the water into frack tanks and half round tanks for storage,” Zimmerman wrote in the affidavit.On at least a dozen times, Snyder saw Kinnard empty the storage tanks by opening rear valves “so that when truck wash waste water was put into the tanks, it flowed out onto the ground,” Zimmerer said.
Most of the alleged incidents occurred between June 2010 and June 2011, Zimmerman said.
Daniel Hiemer, employed as a truck driver in the summer of 2010, told Zimmerer of an incident when he was transporting a tanker truck containing gas well waste water back to the company.
Stolte, the company’s owner, told Hiemer “to back the truck up to a ditch beside a cornfield. Stolte then opened a valve and drained the contents into the ground. Hiemer saw about six such tanker trucks containing gas well waste water being drained into the ground,” Zimmerer said.
Another trucker employed that summer, Chris Zacher, told Zimmerman he once saw Stolte allegedly “open a valve on a tanker truck and drain about 2,000 gallons of waste water” onto the company’s property.
Former employees also reported that when tanker and vacuum trucks were cleaned out at the company, “residual contents of the trucks flowed into the ground,” Zimmerer said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection collected soil and water samples from where the dumping is alleged to have occurred and tests results revealed there were “elevated levels of barium, strontium and chloride, which are consistent with gas well waste water,” Zimmerer said.
Stolte, of Lenzburg, Ill.; Kinnard, of Greenville, Mo.; and Miller, of 536 S. Market St., were sent summonses to appear before District Judge Jon E. Kemp.