UT Fracking Site Violations Resolved

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 @ 01:02 PM gHale

Denver, CO-based Newfield Production Company agreed to a $175,000 fine and to resolve Clean Water Act violations and complete wetlands restoration and create projects at production sites in Uintah and Duchesne counties in Utah’s Uinta Basin.

The settlement, reached with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), resolves Clean Water Act violations reported by Newfield through a 2012 self-audit conducted by the company to examine environmental compliance at 45 of the company’s oil and gas production sites in Utah, including four sites previously owned and operated by Harvest Holdings, Inc.

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Newfield’s audit report found 19 of 45 sites inspected, including the four acquired from Harvest Holdings, to be potentially in violation of section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the filling or dredging of wetlands, rivers, streams, and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Activities at these sites included the construction of well pads, access roads, and pipelines that resulted in the discharge of dredged or fill materials into wetlands and drainages.

“Wetlands are critical to maintaining clean water and healthy watersheds and provide valuable public health and environmental benefits,” said Art Palomares, director of EPA’s water enforcement program in Denver. “Newfield’s efforts to investigate, self-report, and remedy Clean Water Act violations at its production sites offer an example of corporate accountability and attention to environmental compliance. EPA appreciates the company’s actions to restore and create wetlands at its production sites and its commitment to future compliance to protect Utah’s water resources.”

Newfield’s self-audit identified impacts affecting more than 17 acres of wetlands and streams at 19 sites located in drainages connected to the Duchesne River, which flows to the Green River.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Newfield will restore 13 acres of impacted wetlands and streams and will perform mitigation for the remaining areas by creating more than ten acres of new wetlands.

This includes Newfield’s voluntary action to restore and create new wetland areas to remedy impacts at sites previously owned by Harvest Holdings. The site-specific details of wetlands impacts and planned restoration activities are in a restoration plan developed by Newfield last August.

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