The U.S. EPA announced a proposed settlement with Merit Energy Company of Dallas, Texas, resolving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.
As a result, Merit is implementing regulations meant to prevent oil pollution, according to EPA.
The violations include failure to comply with spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) requirements at a tank battery facility operated by the company in Hot Springs County, Wyoming. The proposed agreement results in Merit agreeing to pay a civil penalty of $115,000 to resolve the alleged violations, according to EPA.
The $115,000 penalty will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is a fund used by federal agencies to respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances, according to EPA.
"Due to the harm oil spills can cause to public health and the environment, every effort must be made to prevent oil spills and to clean them up promptly once they occur," said the EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director Suzanne Bohan, according to EPA. “We are encouraged by Merit’s actions to come into compliance with the laws and regulations that protect the environment from the damages that can occur when oil is discharged into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.”
The proposed settlement is a result of EPA’s investigation of an oil spill that occurred on June 19, 2018. The settlement alleges that Merit released approximately 455 barrels of crude oil from the Stateland Tank Battery Facility into Grass Creek, a tributary of the Big Horn River, reported EPA.
After reviewing the spill, EPA discovered deficiencies in Merit’s SPCC plan for the facility and since the violation and the company has since submitted an updated plan to EPA.
The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act aim to prevent and facilitate the response to the discharge of oil from non-transportation-related onshore facilities, according to EPA. All facilities with 1,320 gallons of oil that have the potential for a spill to reach waters of the U.S. are required to have an SPCC Plan.
The proposed consent agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer.