EPA proposes settlement over produced water releases on North Dakota reservation

April 12, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) settlement with Texas-based Arrow Midstream Holdings in which the company has agreed to pay $106,500 for alleged Clean Water Act violations associated with two releases of produced water from pipelines into tributaries of Lake Sakakawea near Mandaree, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

EPA alleges that Arrow Midstream violated Section 301 of the CWA by unintentionally releasing produced water from two pipelines into tributaries of Lake Sakakawea in 2019. These incidents included a Sept. 19–20, 2019, release of approximately 962 barrels of produced water from the Two Shields Butte 9-8-7 Well Pad and a Sept. 28–30, 2019, release of approximately 3,917 barrels from the Moccasin Creek 8-26 Well Pad. Produced water from oil wells contains high levels of dissolved salts that can degrade water quality and are toxic to aquatic life.

"Due to the harm produced water spills can cause to public health and the environment, every effort must be made to prevent these spills and to clean them up promptly once they occur," said the EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director Suzanne Bohan. “EPA is committed to ensuring compliance with Clean Water Act requirements that safeguard our rivers, lakes and streams and protect Tribes.”

Arrow Midstream reported the incidents to the National Response Center and worked with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to contain and clean up the releases. The company has also taken action to reduce the likelihood of similar releases in the future, by removing the pipeline material involved in the releases from other pipelines on the Reservation. 

 The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into waters of the U.S. without a permit. For more on the Clean Water Act’s prohibition against discharges of pollutants into waters of the U.S., visit:  https://www.epa.gov/compliance/clean-water-act-cwa-compliance-monitoring#wastewater.

This proposed Consent Agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer.  The public comment period began March 30th and ends on April 29th.  To access and comment on the Consent Agreement, visit:  https://www.epa.gov/nd/opportunity-comment-proposed-consent-agreement-arrow-midstream-holdings-llc-alleged-violations

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