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EPA fines oil producer $40,000 for oil spill and water violations

Release Date: 11/10/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined Andrew Saied $40,000 for Safe Drinking Water Act and oil spill prevention violations at its facility located on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, N.M.

Andrew Saied, operating an oil extraction facility under the name of Hart Oil and Gas, failed to have in place a plan to prevent oil discharges at two units where drainage from the facility leads to intermittent streams or channels, including Salt Creek Wash, which is approximately 750 feet away and discharges into the San Juan River.

The EPA also found that the facility failed to test underground injection wells to ensure the safety of the drinking water aquifer. The facility also failed to repair or close wells that failed mechanical integrity tests, failed to submit annual disposal and monitoring reports to the EPA, and failed to appropriately fund the financial responsibility trust to ensure proper closure and abandonment of injection wells.

"Federal oil spill prevention requirements help ensure a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil spilled into rivers and streams. Similarly, the underground injection requirements protect ground water -- a vital source of drinking water within the arid lands of the Navajo Nation," said Alexis Strauss, the Water Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "We believe it is critical for companies to comply with these environmental protection measures, and will ensure Hart Oil and Gas returns to compliance."

The company has above-ground storage tanks that store 1,320 gallons of oil or oil products. Spill prevention regulations require such non-transportation related facilities that store large amounts of oil to have a spill prevention plan that addresses the facility's design, operation, and maintenance procedures to prevent spills from occurring. The plan must also include measures to control, contain, clean up, and mitigate any effects an oil spill might have on rivers and streams.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA issues underground injection control permits for a variety of purposes, including oil and gas-related wastewater disposal. UIC permits authorize the specific waste to be injected, as well as prescribe operating parameters to 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 oily salt water, or brine, are also brought to the surface. Contaminated salt water can be very damaging when discharged into surface water, thus it is typically injected into similar formations from which it was extracted.

For more on oil spill prevention visit: For more information on underground injection permits and federal requirements, visit: