2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

An energy company has agreed to pay $1 million to settle Clean Water Act allegations related to two tank batteries that support oil and gas production.

In 2014, one of the batteries discharged over 7,000 gallons of condensate and produced water.  At both facilities, which were in Colorado floodplains, investigations found them deficient in Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP).  EPA’s news release regarding the settlement indicates the company corrected those deficiencies, decommissioned the facility that had the release, and agreed to a $1 million civil penalty.

Statewide Upgrades to Floodplain Facilities
The settlement also requires the company to install steel oil-spill contamination berms, remote monitoring sensors, and tank anchoring at all its active tank batteries in Colorado floodplains.  The draft Consent Decree indicates the company has 135 floodplain locations.

Failed Oil Response Exercises
The news release mentions that EPA conducted two unannounced spill response exercises at the battery that did not have the release, which the company was unable to complete.  The company addressed those deficiencies by purchasing additional response equipment, conducting employee training, submitting a revised SPCC plan, and submitting a revised FRP.

Consent Decree Subject to Court Approval
The settlement, in the form of a Consent Decree, must receive court approval and is subject to a thirty-day comment period.

To see the news release, which includes a link to the draft Consent Decree https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/justice-department-and-epa-reach-1-million-settlement-noble-energy-and-noble-midstream