Superior Crude Gathering Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2010 crude oil spill from tanks at Superior’s oil storage facility in Ingleside, Texas, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced. Under the consent decree lodged in federal court, Superior will pay $1.61 million to resolve the government’s claims.
The U.S.’ complaint, which was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that Superior discharged at least 2,200 barrels (or 92,400 gallons) of crude oil in violation of Section 311 of the Clean Water Act. The oil discharged from two tanks at the facility on Feb. 9 and 10, 2010, and crude oil flowed into an unnamed lake and wetlands near the Intracoastal Waterway and Redfish Bay. The complaint also includes related violations of the Clean Water Act’s spill prevention, control and countermeasure regulations and spill response plan regulations.
The $1.61 million penalty is in addition to the costs incurred by Superior Crude to respond to the oil spill and to repair the tanks and containment areas. Superior Crude has ceased operations at the facility, which is located within the former Falcon Refinery.
“Operators have a responsibility to prevent oil spills and protect the public and the environment through vigilance and preparation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement underscores the consequences of failing to meet that responsibility.”
“Water resources are precious, especially in Texas,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “We rely on businesses to be effective partners in protecting these resources, and to take responsibility when their operations harm the environment.”
The Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to discharge oil or hazardous substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. The penalty paid for this spill will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund managed by the National Pollution Fund Center. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is used to pay for federal response activities and to compensate for damages when there is a discharge or substantial threat of discharge of oil or hazardous substances to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval.