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Bickleton drillers fined $7,500

BICKLETON - Delta Petroleum came up short last year in its test drilling for natural gas near Bickleton.

To make matters worse, the Denver, Colo. company was also slapped with a fine by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The state announced the fine in a press release issued this week.

Delta was pinched for $7,500 last October when it violated its permit to use diesel-powered generators during the drilling operation.

Joye Redfield-Wilder is a spokesperson for the Department of Ecology, and she said Delta used the generators 100 hours more than allowed under terms of the temporary permit.

In addition, she says the amount of pollutants Delta emitted went beyond the scope of its permit.

Redfield-Wilder said Delta was issued a notice of violation and settled with the state for a $7,500 fine.

"We wanted to avoid additional pollutants in the airshed," she noted. "We have to consider how much pollutant is being put into the air. We'll allow for a temporary use to occur, but if it becomes permanent then there's more harm."

The fine assessed against Delta was part of nearly $200,000 in penalties the Department of Ecology assessed during the last three months of 2009.

Delta ceased drilling operations near Bickleton last September when it determined the search for natural gas at that location was not economically feasible.

According to a press release issued at the time, Delta sunk a test well to a depth of more than 12,000 feet, only to find fresh water and a minimal amount of natural gas.

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