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Settlement with Merit Energy resolves violations of oil pollution prevention regulations in Wyoming

Mar 24, 2021

DENVER (March 24, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed settlement with Merit Energy Company (Merit) of Dallas, Texas, resolving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, and its implementing regulations meant to prevent oil pollution. These violations include failure to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements at a tank battery facility operated by the company in Hot Springs County, Wyoming. As a result of the proposed agreement, Merit will pay a civil penalty of $115,000 to resolve the alleged violations.

Today’s proposed settlement resulted from EPA’s investigation of an oil spill that occurred on June 19, 2018, when Merit released approximately 455 barrels of crude oil from the Stateland Tank Battery Facility into Grass Creek, a tributary of the Big Horn River. In reviewing the spill, EPA discovered deficiencies in Merit’s SPCC plan for the facility. The company has since corrected these deficiencies and submitted an updated plan to EPA, helping ensure the environment and nearby communities are better protected from damaging oil spills.

"Due to the harm oil spills can cause to public health and the environment, every effort must be made to prevent oil spills and to clean them up promptly once they occur," said the EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director Suzanne Bohan. “We are encouraged by Merit’s actions to come into compliance with the laws and regulations that protect the environment from the damages that can occur when oil is discharged into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.”

The Oil Pollution Prevention requirements of the Clean Water Act are intended to prevent and facilitate the response to the discharge of oil from non-transportation-related onshore facilities. All 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 an SPCC Plan. The $115,000 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 Consent Agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer. To access and comment on the Consent Agreement, visit: https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/notices-search/location/Wyoming

For more on the Clean Water Act’s prohibition against discharges of oil into water of the U.S. and the implementing SPCC regulations, visit: https://www.epa.gov/compliance/clean-water-act-cwa-compliance-monitoring#oil.

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