EPA announces settlement with North Dakota oil company over CWA violations

June 18, 2021

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a proposed settlement with Phoenix Petroleum in which the company has agreed to pay $50,000 for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. These violations include failure to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements.

EPA compliance inspections of the AB Ericson 1A Crude Oil Tank Battery in Divide County, North Dakota and the Arlo Moberg Tank Battery in Williams County, North Dakota found Phoenix had an inadequate facility wide SPCC Plan, inadequate secondary containment measures for the storage tanks and other technical deficiencies at both tank batteries. Following the inspections, EPA worked with the company regarding the identified deficiencies. In January 2021, Phoenix submitted an acceptable SPCC Plan and photographic evidence confirming that the necessary  technical corrections had been made.

Discharges from the facilities have the potential to impact White Earth Creek as well as one of its tributaries. White Earth Creek is a tributary to the White Earth River.

"Adequate spill prevention plans include important requirements and measures that protect public health and the environment," said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA Region 8’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. "EPA will ensure facilities like these tank batteries comply with the federal requirements that safeguard our communities and our rivers and streams.”

The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are intended to prevent discharges of oil and facilitate responses if discharges occur. Facilities with 1,320 gallons of oil that have the potential for a spill to reach waters of the United States are required to have SPCC Plans. The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are administered by the EPA and the Coast Guard.

The $50,000 penalty will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund used by federal agencies to respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances. Since the 2015 inspection, Phoenix has submitted an SPCC plan that satisfies regulatory requirements and has documented they have corrected the technical deficiencies found during the inspections.

This proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period ending June 26, 2021 and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer.

To access and comment on the Consent Agreement, visit: https://www.epa.gov/nd/opportunity-comment-proposed-consent-agreement-phoenix-petroleum-llc-alleged-violations-oil

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