Brine allegedly dumped into injection wells in PA, penalty sought

June 28, 2011
U.S. EPA has proposed a civil penalty against a Kansas-based energy company for alleged illegal discharges of oil brine into injection wells in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest...

PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 28, 2011 -- U.S. EPA has proposed a $157,500 civil penalty against a Kansas-based energy company for alleged illegal discharges of more than 228,000 gallons of oil brine into injection wells in the Allegheny National Forest in McKean County, PA.

EPA alleges that Swamp Angel Energy, LLC, of Wichita, KS, violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA regulations on the underground injections of fluids and wastes.

"EPA takes our responsibility to protect public health very seriously," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "When companies break the law and threaten our drinking water supplies, they must be held accountable."

The complaint alleges that the company illegally pumped brine generated from its oil production operations into the underground wells. In addition to the penalty, EPA's action also requires the company to properly plug one of the two wells at issue, known as "Old Glory."

EPA states in the complaint that the unauthorized disposal of brine into injection wells without the proper safeguards poses a potential threat to underground sources of drinking water. In Pennsylvania, EPA authorizes and enforces Underground Injection Control (UIC) permitting requirements including responsibility for regulating the construction, operation, and closure of injection wells that place fluids underground for storage or disposal. More information on EPA's UIC program is at http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/uic/

Two company employees were previously convicted on criminal charges in connection with the illegal brine injection. They were sentenced to home detention and probation and ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. See http://www.justice.gov/usao/paw/pr/2010_june/2010_06_24_04.html

The company has the right to appeal the alleged violations and proposed penalty.

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