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June 25, 2024
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CWA CrimeBox
Environmental Crimes Historic Conviction:  Fiscal Year 2003; Case ID# CR_922(Ohio)
Caught in the act: LDEQ shuts down an illegal discharge

One of 67 Clean Water Act Criminal Prosecutions in Louisiana (from 1989-2022)

The defendant in this case is an oil and gas production company operating in Louisiana. Two state agencies engaged in a facilities inspection found employees of the defendant oil and gas company actively pumping saltwater and oil into the environment. Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources inspectors on site shut down the illegal pumping, limiting the discharge to approximately 30 gallons.

Investigators found the illegal discharge to be the end result of a chain of events that had begun three weeks earlier with the clean-out of an underground injection well. The stored contents of the injection well was pumped into a temporary holding pit. A vacuum truck then transferred half of the waste liquid to a secure storage tank, leaving the temporary clean-out pit less than half full. Rain apparently caused the pit to fill near the point of overflowing. An employee of the defendant saw the pit was full again and took action to pump off some of the saltwater into a natural drainage ditch leading to Castor Creek.

Federal district judge received the guilty plea from the defendant to a single count violation of the Clean Water Act, knowing discharge of a contaminant without a permit. The defendant was sentenced to a fine and a year of probation.

Federal Fine: $9000; Probation: 12 months

CWA CrimeBox briefs are compiled from EPA Criminal Enforcement records.

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