EPA initiates penalty actions against 21 facilities in WY under the Clean Water Act

The U.S. EPA's Denver office is seeking penalties against twenty-one facilities in Wyoming, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan regulations. Penalties range from $500 to $54,959. EPA's actions require the facilities to develop and implement oil spill prevention plans, clean up spills and take corrective action.

In September 2004 and April 2005, EPA conducted SPCC inspections at facilities in Wyoming. The facilities EPA inspected each produce, gather or recover oil. Five of the facilities have major SPCC violations, such as no or inadequate dikes to contain a spill around their oil storage tanks or treating units, failure to clean up oil spills and/or numerous or repeat violations. Facilities belonging to two of the companies were inspected previously. Many of the same violations were identified then. The five facilities have 30 days to accept EPA's proposed penalty or request a formal hearing.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the SPCC Plan regulations may result in harmful oil spills that create the potential for fires and explosions -- endangering human life and property, as well as contaminating water. A single pint of oil released into water can leave a sheen on up to an acre of water. Even in such small quantities the oil can be deadly to birds, animals and fish when the oil is ingested, if feathers and fur become coated, or the water's oxygen supply is depleted.

"The regulations are in place to protect the environment, including drinking water. They also ensure that those in the regulated community who operate facilities meeting SPCC requirements are not disadvantaged economically," EPA Assistant Regional Administrator Carol Rushin said.

"The Oil Enforcement Program applies to all oils -- petroleum, non-petroleum, animal and vegetable oil, and any facility that handles more than 1,320 gallons of oil is regulated, from farms to large refineries," Rushin said.

For two of the facilities with more serious violations, EPA provides the opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed penalty assessments for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. To find out how to submit your comments, you may access the public notices at: http://www.epa.gov/region08/compliance/publicnotice

Facilities with proposed actions available for public comment are:

Eitel 10-24 Tank Battery and Wood Field Tank Battery #1, AM West Petroleum, Inc., Crook County, Wyoming

The other facility with a proposed action is:

Sierra Construction Disposal Facility, Johnson County, Wyoming

EPA has already filed a settlement agreement with the following two facilities:

Enos #7 and Enos #11, Crook County, Wyoming, Family Tree Corporation

Sixteen facilities with less severe violations will receive settlement offers from EPA ranging from $500 to $1,850.

For general information about the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan requirements, see:

http://www.epa.gov/oilspill/pdfs/spccbluebroch2002.pdf

For the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan regulation, see:

http://www.epa.gov/oilspill/lawsregs.htm#spcc

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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