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Mountain States Petroleum Corp. fined $42,500 for violating Safe Drinking Water Act

Release Date: 08/14/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, Desk/415-947-4149 Cell/415.760.9161,

Failed to plug abandoned underground injection wells
(8/14/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) A Dallas, Texas-based petroleum company operating on Navajo lands in Apache County, Ariz., has agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $42,500 to settle violations of federal underground injection well regulations.

Mountain States Petroleum Corporation operated a well in the Dine-Bi-Keyah oil and gas field. The well, abandoned in 2005, was used for saltwater injection in association with oil and gas production. Federal regulations require plugging and abandonment within two years, which the corporation failed to accomplish.

"We will ensure all companies comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations to protect underground sources of drinking water in the arid West,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased to resolve these long-standing violations and will continue to oversee all such operations.”

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA issues underground injection control permits for a variety of purposes, including oil and gas-related produced water disposal. These permits authorize the specific waste stream that may be injected and ensure protection of underground sources of drinking water.

The oil and gas production industry accounts for a large proportion of the fluids injected into the subsurface. When oil and gas are extracted, large amounts of salt water, or brine, are also brought to the surface. Salt water can be very damaging when discharged into underground sources of drinking water, thus it is typically injected into similar formations from which it was extracted, and most often for enhanced oil recovery purposes.

Over 2 billion gallons of brine are injected daily into injection wells in the U.S.

Mountain States is one of about two dozen companies located on the Navajo Nation with EPA authorization to inject non-hazardous oil and gas salt water into underground injection wells, most of which are up to 6,000 feet deep.
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