Jul 15, 2011

EPA Seeks Penalty Against Company for Illegal Dumping of Brine

Swamp Angel Energy LLC allegedly discharged oil brine into injection wells in national forest

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a $157,500 civil penalty against a Kansas-based company for alleged illegal discharges of more than 228,000 gal of oil brine into injection wells in the Allegheny National Forest in McKean County, Pa.

EPA alleges violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA regulations on the underground injections of fluids and wastes in seeking the penalty against Swamp Angel Energy LLC of Wichita, Kan.

The proposed administrative order and complaint for penalty against Swamp Angel Energy alleges that the company illegally pumped brine generated from its oil production operations into the underground wells. In addition to the penalty, EPA’s action also requires the company to properly plug one of the two wells at issue.

In its complaint, EPA states that the unauthorized disposal of brine into injection wells without the proper safeguards poses a potential threat to underground sources of drinking water.
In Pennsylvania, EPA authorizes and enforces Underground Injection Control (UIC) permitting requirements including responsibility for regulating the construction, operation, and closure of injection wells that place fluids underground for storage or disposal.

Two company employees were previously convicted on criminal charges in connection with the illegal brine injection. They were sentenced to home detention and probation and ordered to pay a fine and perform community service.