Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oilfield Company Settles With EPA on Clean Water Act Violations in Arctic

An oilfield service company contracted by Royal Dutch Shell for exploration work in the Chukchi Sea in 2012 has reached a $37,500 settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the Clean Water Act.

EPA officials said on Dec. 8 that NANA Oilfield Services Inc. violated federal oil spill prevention and response rules at its Deadhorse fuel storage and distribution facility. According to the EPA, multiple violations of Clean Water Act spill prevention rules and spill response requirements at the facility were found. The company agreed to pay the fine and has come into compliance with its Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Plan.

Susan Murray, deputy vice president, Pacific for the international oceans watchdog group Oceana, said the settlement “simply confirms that Shell Oil and its contractors are not prepared for the challenges of working in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean.

“The Arctic’s unforgiving conditions leave little to no margin for error,” she said.

Facilities with the potential for oil spills and more than 1,320 gallons of above ground fuel storage capacity are required to prevent discharges to waterways by using a detailed SPCC plan.

They must also submit a facility response plan to the EPA before the facility increases its capacity to one million or more gallons. These rules are designed to prevent discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and to demonstrate a facility’s preparedness to address a worst case scenario oil spill.

The EPA said that NANA Oilfield Services had a spill prevention plan at its Deadhorse facility, but had not submitted the required and more detailed facility response plan to the EPA, despite having more than one million gallons of fuel on site. EPA inspectors also noted that on site employees of the company were not properly trained in spill response and could not answer basic facility response questions. In addition, they found that a now removed jet fuel pipeline running to the air strip lacked secondary containment precautions that would prevent additional risk to the environment in the event of a release.

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