American Energy Inc. To Pay $585,000 For Clean Water Act Violations
American Energy Inc. (AEI) has agreed to pay $585,000 to the federal government and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, to resolve allegations that it discharged 5,388 gallons (128 barrels) of unleaded gasoline into Beaver Creek, located on the Reservation in March 1999, EPA announced on May 18. The spill was caused by a tanker truck and trailer roll-over.
The spill killed hundreds of juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead in a four-mile reach below the spill site including wild Chinook salmon and mid-Columbia summer steelhead which are listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Contamination from the spill forced the Warm Springs Tribes to close off a two mile stretch of Beaver Creek to Tribal members who gather traditional foods and products there, and caused violations of the tribes' water quality standards in the area for the following two years after the incident.
"The Chinook salmon and steelhead are a highly-valued resource to the Warm Springs Tribes and to the region overall," said Mike Bussell, EPA's Region 10 enforcement director.
AEI's contractor completed a cleanup in early 2002 under the oversight of EPA's Emergency Response personnel and the Warm Springs Tribes.
The parties negotiated a comprehensive settlement of the case that provides:
- $80,000 to the spill Response Fund in satisfaction of all EPA penalty claims related to the spill.
- $80,000 to the tribes in satisfaction of all tribal penalty claims related to the spill.
- $425,000 payments to the Natural Resource Trustees (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)) in satisfaction of all claims relating to natural resource damages from the spill ($94,243.98 to NOAA and $15,533.52 to DOI to reimburse assessment costs; $315,222.50 to a Registry of the Court to complete a Beaver Butte Creek Natural Resource Plan).
The consent decree was lodged on March 22, was subject to a 30-day public comment period, and was entered with the court on May 18. For additional information, contact EPA Region 10 at http://www.epa.gov/r10earth.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.