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EPA Orders Swamp Angel Energy to Pay Penalty for Unauthorized Disposal of Brine Waste

Release Date: 09/28/2012
Contact Information: Sternberg, 215-814-5548, sternberg.david@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (September 28, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a Consent Agreement and Final Order requiring Swamp Angel Energy, LLC, to pay a civil penalty of $54,324 and plug a well that was used illegally for dumping oil production brine waste. The well is located in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest where Swamp Angel operates oil production wells.

EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) complaint alleged that in 2007 and 2008, a former part-owner of Swamp Angel and a former site supervisor dumped approximately 228,000 gallons of contaminated brine into two pre-existing wells in the Allegheny National Forest without a permit. Wastewater from Swamp Angel’s oil production wells in the ANF was supposed to be disposed of at an authorized treatment facility.

Since then, Swamp Angel applied for and received a SDWA permit from EPA to use one of the wells for disposal of brine generated during oil production. As part of the settlement, Swamp Angel will plug the other well to prevent contamination of underground sources of drinking water.

The SDWA’s Underground Injection Control Program seeks to protect underground sources of drinking water from unpermitted disposal of wastes underground. The use of these two wells for brine disposal raised particular concern because EPA was provided little information about the wells’ construction, condition or integrity, and had not granted a permit or authorization.

Proper plugging of the remaining unpermitted well will prevent the potential for oil and gas wastes to flow between the oil formations up into an underground source of drinking water, or for surface contamination to flow into the well and migrate into underground formations.

In 2010, a criminal case involving the company's former part-owner and site supervisor was resolved when these individuals pled guilty to violating the SDWA through the illegal disposal of brine into these wells in 2007 and 2008. The owner received 10 months of home detention, three years probation, a $5,000 fine, and 100 hours of community service.

Swamp Angel’s former site supervisor was sentenced to eight months home detention, three years probation, a $4,000 fine, and 80 hours of community service.

Swamp Angel is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. As part of the administrative settlement, the company did not admit or deny the violations.