MOUNDSVILLE – A temporary restraining order has been granted in a lawsuit against the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and Gastar Exploration Inc.


The temporary restraining order orders Gastar to cease and desist from any fracking activity pursuant to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Oct. 27 order, and orders the WVDEP to cease and desist from enforcing its Oct. 27 order that sets forth operational amendments to the permits issued to Gastar for three separate wells and the related permits.


The lawsuit against WVDEP secretary Randy C. Huffman and Gastar was filed by Eagle Natrium LLC on Oct. 30 in Marshall Circuit Court.


Eagle claims it requested the WVDEP and Gastar to heed its concerns over significant threat of hazard to safety of persons or damage to publicly owned lands or resources from WVDEP's authorization of Gastar's proposed hydraulic fracturing operations within the vicinity of the Ohio River and of its brine cavern that had recently been damaged.


Eagle met with the WVDEP to express its concerns and request for relief on May 5 and June 18, and, in response, the WVDEP issued two orders amending the Gastar permit allowing operations to continue and requiring Eagle to monitor in case of damage caused by the fracturing operations, offering no consideration to safety to persons or damage to publicly owned lands or resources to include the Ohio River, according to the suit.


Gastar is a party to a gas lease and operations agreement with PPG as original lessor, under which Eagle provided Gastar with notice of the damage caused by nearby stimulation activity and requested that Gastar desist from conducting hydraulic fracturing or other activity at the Goudy Wells while the parties to the agreement investigated the risk the activity would pose on Eagle's brine fields.


On April 22, Eagle filed a complaint before the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pa., against Gastar, invoking the provisions of the agreement to seek an injunction and relief.


On Oct. 16, the Pennsylvania court issued an order that denied Eagle's motion for preliminary injunction.


Eagle claimed by entering a temporary restraining order, no party will be seriously harmed and Gastar will simply be delayed slightly and may need to alter the manner in which the fracking job is conducted.


Eagle is represented by Michael O. Callaghan of Neely & Callaghan.


The case is assigned to Circuit Judge David Hummel Jr.


Marshall Circuit Court case number: 14-C-179

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