Settlement reached in Roan stormwater violations

Three companies have agreed to pay a total of $680,000 in penalty settlements for stormwater violations in early 2008 related to oil and gas activities on the Roan Plateau near the town of Parachute.

The violations by Berry Petroleum Co., Marathon Oil Co. and Enterprise Products Operating LLC caused loose soil to wash from an access road and pipeline project over a cliff and into Garden Gulch, which resulted in sediment-laden water reaching Parachute Creek upstream of Parachute.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a news release Wednesday that under the settlement, Enterprise will pay $182,000, Berry $150,000 and Marathon $98,000 into the state’s Water Quality Improvement Fund.

“These penalty monies will be used to provide grants for the improvement of water quality in the impacted communities; for the planning, design and construction of stormwater and domestic wastewater treatment facilities; and for nonfederal matching funds for non-point source (pollution) projects,” Martha Rudolph, the department’s director of environmental programs, said in the news release.

Berry also agreed to donate another $100,000 for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Common Data Repository and Water Resource Assessment project for the Piceance Basin, and $150,000 to hire a contractor to perform water quality data collection from streams and springs on the Roan Plateau, in areas where little or no water quality data exists.

The area where the violations occurred is under state regulatory jurisdiction. It doesn’t include any of the 55,000 acres that the federal government leased for oil and gas development on the Roan Plateau northwest of Rifle last year.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can take effect. More information can be found at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/enforcement/2009/2009 Stor mwater/Stormwater09.html.

The state says the companies did not meet their stormwater discharge permit requirements to implement “best management” practices for pollution prevention, and to develop effective stormwater management plans.

While agreeing to the settlements, the three companies are not admitting to any of the state’s factual or legal determinations regarding the violations.

In its settlement document, Berry said it had followed best-management practices, including installing culverts and sediment ponds. It also said it knew of no water quality standard violations in Parachute Creek or other environmental harm resulting from its drilling project.

Also in early 2008, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff issued citations against Berry and Marathon for leaks that winter from drilling pits in the Garden Gulch area.


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