EPA Issues Cease and Desist Orders to Three Energy Companies

In the past several days, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued cease-and-desist administrative orders to three separate energy companies in Texas and Oklahoma for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

On Feb. 8, EPA issued the order to Linn Energy, LLC, of Houston, Texas; on Feb. 9, the agency issued it to NuCo Energy Inc. of Beggs, Okla.; and on Feb. 10, the agency issued it to Dolberry Energy Resources Inc. of Dallas, Texas. All three companies were found responsible for the unauthorized discharge of oil field brine generated by their production activities.

In the case of Linn Energy, a Jan. 11, 2010, EPA inspection of the company's oil field production facility in Osage County, Okla., found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine generated into a tributary of Salt Creek. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Salt Creek was contaminated from brine discharges and salts. Based on these findings, EPA ordered Linn Energy to cease all discharges of pollutants from the facility and remove all brine from the flow path located between the facility and the discharge point of entry into Salt Creek. The company has also been ordered to remove all wastewater located in the tributary between the facility and Salt Creek, and within 30 days provide written certification that these activities have been completed.

In the case of Nuco Energy, a Jan. 13, 2010, EPA inspection of the company’s oil field production and brine disposal facility in Okmulgee County, Okla., found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine generated by production activities into a tributary of Adams Creek. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Adams Creek was contaminated from brine discharges and salts. Based on these findings, the agency ordered NuCo Energy to cease all discharges of pollutants from the facility, remove all brine from the flow path located between the facility and the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Adams Creek, and within 30 days provide written certification that these activities have been completed.

Finally, in the case of Dolberry Energy, a Jan. 22, 2010, EPA inspection of the compan'’s oil field production facility in Young County, Texas, found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine generated by production activities into a tributary of Little Salt Creek. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Little Salt Creek was contaminated from brine discharges and salts. Based on these findings, EPA ordered Dolberry Energy to cease all discharges of pollutants from the facility, remove all brine from the flow path located between the facility and the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Little Salt Creek, and within 30 days provide written certification that these activities have been completed.

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