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EPA, DOJ settle with Mobil for over $5.5 million for Clean Water Act violations on Navajo lands

Release Date: 8/3/2004
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced a settlement with Mobil Exploration and Producing U.S. Inc. worth over $5.5 million for numerous oil and produced water spills from its oil production activities on the Navajo Nation in southeastern Utah.

The settlement includes a $515,000 penalty and requires the company to spend about $4.7 million on field operation improvements to reduce spill incidences.

Mobil will also spend approximately $327,000 on environmental projects that include sanitation facilities and construction of a drinking water supply line extension that will provide running water to 17 of the remote residences located on the oil production fields. Currently, local residents may drive as long as an hour to fill 55 gallon drums with drinking water.

"This settlement brings Mobil's oil production activities into compliance with water pollution control requirements, and also brings much-needed public health benefits to residents of the area who still lack an in-home drinking water supply," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region.

"Companies that operate and manage our nation's oil producing infrastructure have a responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of their operations," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's settlement is an excellent mechanism for bringing Mobil's operations into compliance and also works to improve the well-being of those living on the Navajo Nation in southeastern Utah."

In March 1998, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming that between December 1991 and March 1999 approximately 83 spills at Mobil's oil fields reached tributaries of the San Juan River-- a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Mobil's violations include:

1) unauthorized discharge of oil and oil and water mixtures into tributaries of
the San Juan River

2) failure to prepare and fully implement an adequate spill prevention and
control plan

3) failure to implement existing plans

4) failure to prepare a facility response plan or conduct drills and training

5) failure to notify the EPA of discharge events

Mobil's oil production fields are located on both sides of the San Juan River in southeast Utah on lands leased from the Navajo Nation. The EPA worked closely with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency in addressing the spills, which the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency first brought to the EPA's attention in 1996.

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