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Phoenix Petroleum resolves Clean Water Act violations at North Dakota oil production facilities

Clean Water Act violations at North Dakota oil production facilities resolved as Phoenix Petroleum agrees to penalty associated with inadequate spill prevention plan and field implementation of the plan at two tank batteries in Williams and Divide Counties.

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Phoenix Petroleum agrees to penalty associated with an inadequate spill prevention plan and field implementation of the plan at two tank batteries in North Dakota. (Dickinson Press file photo)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday, June 17, that a Clean Water Act proposed settlement has been reached with Phoenix Petroleum, LLC., after alleged violations were uncovered in an inspection at facilities in Williams and Divide Counties.

As part of the proposed settlement, Phoenix agreed to pay $50,000 for their alleged Clean Water Act violations, the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution.

The Clean Water Act’s objective is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters and waterways; recognizing the responsibilities of the states in addressing pollution and providing assistance to states to do so — including funding for publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.

According to the EPA, Phoenix’s violations include failure to comply with spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) requirements at the AB Ericson 1-A Tank Battery and the Arlo Moberg 3 Tank Battery in Williams County.

EPA compliance inspections of the AB Ericson 1A Crude Oil Tank Battery in Divide County and the Arlo Moberg Tank Battery in Williams County found Phoenix had an inadequate facility-wide SPCC Plan, inadequate secondary containment measures for the storage tanks and other technical deficiencies at both tank batteries.

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Following the inspections, the EPA worked with the company regarding the identified deficiencies. In January 2021, Phoenix submitted an acceptable SPCC Plan and photographic evidence confirming the necessary technical corrections made at the two facilities.

Discharges from the facilities have the potential to impact White Earth Creek as well as one of its tributaries. White Earth Creek is a tributary to the White Earth River.

"Adequate spill prevention plans include important requirements and measures that protect public health and the environment," Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA Region 8’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, said. "The EPA will ensure facilities like these tank batteries comply with the federal requirements that safeguard our communities and our rivers and streams.”

The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are intended to prevent discharges of oil and facilitate responses if discharges occur. Facilities with 1,320 gallons of oil that have the potential for a spill to reach waters of the United States are required to have SPCC Plans. The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are administered by the EPA and the Coast Guard.

The $50,000 penalty will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund used by federal agencies to respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances.

This proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period ending June 26, 2021 and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer.

To access and comment on the Consent Agreement, visit: epa.gov/nd/opportunity-comment-proposed-consent-agreement-phoenix-petroleum-llc-alleged-violations-oil

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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