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UNITED STATES SUES MOBIL FOR POLLUTING NAVAJO NATION WATERS
Release Date: 3/30/1998
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578
(San Francisco)--The federal government today sued Mobil, alleging that it spilled more than a million gallons of oil and contaminated water into tributaries to the San Juan River running through Navajo Nation lands in San Juan County, Utah, violating the Clean Water Act. This is the second lawsuit for violations of the Clean Water Act against a major oil company for oil and contaminated water pollution on Navajo Nation lands brought by the federal government in the last five days. Last Thursday, March 26, 1998, the government filed a similar suit against Texaco. Today's lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Mobil to pay a monetary penalty and to take action to prevent future spills.
"Our action today will compel Mobil to prevent further spills from its oil production facilities," said Alexis Strauss, director of U.S. EPA's regional water division in San Francisco. "We are determined to protect the quality of surface water and ground water for today and for generations to come."
The civil lawsuit was filed today by the Justice Department in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Water Act violations were referred to the U.S. EPA by the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuit alleges that the spills occurred at the oil and gas production fields Mobil operates on Navajo Nation lands near Aneth, Utah and within the Aneth Chapter area of the Navajo Nation.
According to the government's lawsuit, Mobil violated the federal Clean Water Act by causing approximately 73 different spills between December 1991 and January 1998. The oil and contaminated water flowed from Mobil's piping system into tributaries to the San Juan River or the river itself.
The lawsuit also alleges that Mobil violated EPA's spill prevention regulations by failing to have containment equipment and other measures in place in the event of a spill, and also by failing to report certain spills.
Mobil faces a maximum penalty under the Clean Water Act of over $5 million.
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