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The operator of a natural gas processing facility in the heart of Washington County, PA’s, Marcellus shale fields agreed to pay more than $150,000 in state fines involving improper flaring and smoke from the plant.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began investigating MarkWest Energy Partners LP’s plant in Chartiers when neighbors sent in pictures of thick smoke from flare stacks.

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An April agreement settled a $71,000 fine for polluting the air and ordered repairs. But then DEP realized MarkWest did not have a required permit for one of the flares, agency spokesman John Poister said.

MarkWest agreed to an $80,000 fine last month, and on Sept. 15 applied for a permit, which DEP is reviewing. Company spokesman Robert McHale said the flare ended up installed as a safety improvement in 2011.

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“In implementing this improvement, MarkWest inadvertently omitted the newly configured flare from the permitting process,” McHale said. “The recent consent order is intended to address that oversight.”

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