Louisiana Oil Spills Cost Texas Oil Company $504,000

Meridian Resource Exploration LLC and Louisiana Onshore Properties LLC (Meridian) will pay a $504,000 civil penalty and enhance the pipeline monitoring and oil spill prevention program at its Weeks Island facility in Iberia Parish, La., to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and EPA announced on Sept. 6.

The settlement resolves the claims asserted in a federal complaint filed concurrently with the proposed consent decree. The complaint seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief for five unauthorized discharges of crude oil into waters of the United States between November 2005 and Nov. 1, 2006, from two pipelines and one oil production well at Meridian's facility. The complaint alleges that approximately 747 barrels of oil (approximately 31,000 gallons) were spilled into or along Weeks Bayou and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Under the consent decree, Meridian has agreed to expand and improve its pipeline monitoring, inspection, and maintenance program, which will include both internal and external corrosion prevention. Meridian also will retain an independent consultant to evaluate Meridian's pipeline maintenance and monitoring efforts. Meridian has replaced most of the six-inch diameter pipeline that was the source of three of the spills.

"This settlement advances our enforcement mission to protect the environment and public health from oil spills into our nation's waters," said Ronald J. Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

The $504,000 penalty is in addition to the costs incurred by Meridian to respond to the oil spills as they occurred and to replace the leaking pipeline. The penalty will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

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