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American Energy, Inc. to pay $585,000 for Clean Water Act violations resulting from oil spill

Release Date: 05/18/2006
Contact Information: USDOJ (202) 514-2007 EPA (206) 553-8203 or (206) 553-1203

Company will pay $80,000 in penalties to U.S., $80,000 in penalties to Warm Springs Tribes and $425,000 in damages to federal Natural Resource Trustees

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 18, 2006) The American Energy, Inc. (AEI) has agreed to pay $585,000 to the United States and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, to resolve allegations that it discharged 5,388 gallons (128 barrels) of unleaded gasoline into Beaver Creek, located on the Reservation in March of 1999. The spill was caused by a tanker truck and trailer roll-over.

The spill killed hundreds of juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead in a four-mile reach below the spill site including wild Chinook salmon and mid-Columbia summer steelhead which are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The area affected by the spill is the main spawning and rearing area for these anadromous fish in Beaver Butte Creek.

Contamination from the spill forced the Warm Springs Tribes to close off a two mile stretch of Beaver Creek to Tribal members who gather traditional foods and products there, and caused violations of the Tribes' water quality standards in the area for the next two years.

“The Chinook salmon and steelhead are a highly-valued resource to the Warm Springs Tribes and to the region overall,” said Mike Bussell, EPA’s Region 10 Enforcement Director.

AEI’s contractor completed a cleanup in early 2002 under the oversight of EPA's Emergency Response personnel and the Warm Springs Tribes.

The parties negotiated a comprehensive settlement of the case that provides:

$80,000 to the spill Response Fund in satisfaction of all EPA penalty claims related to the spill;
$80,000 to the Tribes in satisfaction of all Tribal penalty claims related to the spill; and
$425,000 payments to the Natural Resource Trustees (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration or “NOAA” and the Department of the Interior or “DOI”) in satisfaction of all claims relating to natural resource damages from the spill ($94,243.98 to NOAA and $15,533.52 to DOI to reimburse assessment costs; $315,222.50 to a Registry of the Court to complete a Beaver Butte Creek Natural Resource Plan).

The consent decree was lodged on March 22, 2006, was subject to a 30-day public comment period, and was entered with the court today.

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