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Ogden Sentenced to $200,000 Criminal Fine for Dumping Fuel at Dulles Airport

Release Date: 11/29/2000
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ogden Aviation Fueling Co. of Virginia has been ordered by a federal judge to pay a fine of $200,000 for a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act, the maximum allowable fine under law.

The offense occurred in 1996, when the company discharged more than 7,000 gallons of waste jet fuel from Ogden’s fuel storage and distribution operation at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. Ogden pleaded guilty in September 2000 to a negligent misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act.

Ogden collected storm water contaminated with jet fuel and other polluted fuel, and stored the mixture in a 123,000 gallon above-ground tank, used as an oil/water separator at Dulles.

The fuel was then collected periodically by an oil recycling company from the top of the tank. Ogden discharged the wastewater contained in the tank to a ditch that empties into Horsepen Run, a Potomac River tributary.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality had refused to issue permits for these periodic discharges because the wastewater contained deicing compounds. The illegal discharge process was further complicated by numerous shortcomings of its system: the tank lacked a functional monitoring device; the discharge pump was inoperable and had been replaced by a portable pump that lacked remote monitoring or shut-off; and there were no standard operating procedures for draining wastewater from the tank.

Ogden’s practice was to have workers take manual measurements during the wastewater drawdown, and to cease discharging when a two-inch margin remained between the tank’s outlet and the layer of floating fuel.

On October 10, 1996, Ogden began a discharge, but after a shift change the incoming workers were not informed that the discharge was ongoing. The smell of petroleum odors in the area eventually led to inquiries and the discovery that Ogden had discharged more than 7,000 gallons of petroleum from the tank into Horsepen Run. Ogden subsequently lost its contract at Dulles.

EPA Region III’s removal response team coordinated the response to Ogden’s petroleum release. The matter was investigated by EPA’s criminal investigation division and the FBI.