(Denver, Colo.—February 2, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Denver, Colorado-based Newfield Production Company (Newfield) has agreed to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations and complete wetlands restoration and creation projects at production sites in Uintah and Duchesne counties in Utah’s Uinta Basin.
The company will also pay a penalty of $175,000
Today’s settlement resolves Clean Water Act violations reported by Newfield through a 2012 self-audit conducted by the company to examine environmental compliance at 45 of the company’s production sites in Utah, including four sites previously owned and operated by Harvest Holdings, Inc. Newfield’s audit report found 19 of 45 sites inspected, including the four acquired from Harvest Holdings, to be potentially in violation of section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the filling or dredging of wetlands, rivers, streams, and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Activities at these sites included the construction of well pads, access roads, and pipelines that resulted in the discharge of dredged or fill materials into wetlands and drainages.
“Wetlands are critical to maintaining clean water and healthy watersheds and provide valuable public health and environmental benefits,” said Art Palomares, director of EPA’s water enforcement program in Denver. “Newfield’s efforts to investigate, self-report, and remedy Clean Water Act violations at its production sites offer an example of corporate accountability and attention to environmental compliance. EPA appreciates the company’s actions to restore and create wetlands at its production sites and its commitment to future compliance to protect Utah’s water resources.”
Newfield’s self-audit identified impacts affecting more than 17 acres of wetlands and streams at 19 sites located in drainages connected to the Duchesne River, which flows to the Green River. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Newfield will restore approximately 13 acres of impacted wetlands and streams and will perform mitigation for the remaining impacts by creating more than ten acres of new wetlands. This includes Newfield’s voluntary action to restore and create new wetland areas to remedy impacts at sites previously owned by Harvest Holdings. The site-specific details of wetlands impacts and planned restoration activities are described in a restoration plan developed by Newfield last August.
Wetlands benefit the environment by reducing flood risks, filtering pollutants, recharging groundwater and drinking water supplies, and providing food and habitat for aquatic life. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of dredge or fill material into waters of the U.S. without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The consent agreement was made available for a 40-day public comment period. A final order was issued by the Regional Judicial Officer on January 27, 2015. Copies of the consent agreements and final order are available on the EPA Region 8’s Administrative Enforcement Dockets website at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/rhc/epaadmin.nsf/Dockets+By+EPA+Region?OpenView&RestrictToCategory=08