EPA settles with North Dakota gas plant over CWA violations

March 12, 2021
Company agrees to penalty associated with inadequate spill prevention and response plans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a Clean Water Act (CWA) settlement with Hess Corporation, Hess Midstream Operations LP, and Hess Tioga Gas Plant LLC (Hess), in which the companies have agreed to pay $195,000 for alleged Clean Water Act violations associated with the operation of the Tioga gas plant facility in Williams County, North Dakota.

On Oct. 7, 2015, EPA conducted an inspection of the Tioga gas plant and found multiple deficiencies, including: inadequate secondary containment for the two largest tanks and containment ponds; no containment for two produced water tanks and for other smaller oil storage containers; and an inadequate Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC) plan. In addition, EPA found that Hess failed to prepare an adequate Facility Response Plan (FRP) for the plant demonstrating the facility's preparedness to respond to a worst-case oil discharge. Hess has since remedied the deficiencies in its SPCC Plan and FRP.

Discharge from the facility has the potential to impact an unnamed tributary of Paulsen Creek, a tributary to the White Earth River. EPA’s analysis indicates potential impacts associated with a worst-case spill scenario from this facility could extend 61 miles to White Earth Bay on Lake Sakakawea.

"Adequate spill prevention and response 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 continue to make sure facilities like the Tioga gas plant 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. All 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. Facilities with storage capacity of one million gallons or more, and with the potential to impact fish, wildlife and sensitive environments, are also required to meet FRP requirements. The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are administered by the EPA and the Coast Guard.

The $195,000 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, Hess has submitted SPCC and FRP plans that satisfy regulatory requirements and has demonstrated the ability to effectively implement its FRP.

For more information on the Clean Water Act, visit EPA's compliance web page: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/index.html

For more information on SPCC and FRP regulatory requirements visit EPA's compliance web page: http://www.epa.gov/oil-spills-prevention-and-preparedness-regulations

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