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Anadarko Petroleum Co., agrees to pay penalty for oil spills in Wyoming

Release Date: 05/07/2009
Contact Information: Richard Mylott, 303 312-6654

Company has also agreed to upgrade spill prevention and response plans

(May 7, 2009 -- Denver, Colo.) Anadarko Petroleum Co., and two related oil production companies have agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than $1 million and implement injunctive relief, develop facility response plans, and revise spill prevention as well as containment plans at a cost of more than $8 million during the term of the settlement in order to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

According to the consent decree, filed in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyo., Anadarko, Howell Corp., and Howell Petroleum Corp., agree to pay $1.05 million and will upgrade and implement appropriate spill prevention plans and develop and implement facility response plans. The consent decree also requires the companies to implement a multi-phased integrity and mitigation plan that incorporates inspection, monitoring, testing, data collection and failure analysis activities.

“This multi-million dollar settlement will protect water resources and habitat in Wyoming and the West,” said Carol Rushin, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Denver. “We are pleased that Anadarko and its partners will make significant investments in monitoring and control measures that will ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and minimize the likelihood and severity of future spills.”

“As a result of today’s settlement, Anadarko will pay a significant civil penalty and spend an even greater amount to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The consent decree will clearly improve Anadarko’s preparedness and prevention plans and will ultimately result in a cleaner environment for the people of Wyoming.”

According to a complaint filed concurrently with the consent decree, Anadarko Petroleum and the two related companies allegedly discharged harmful quantities of oil from its facility in Wyoming on more than 35 occasions between Jan. 26, 2003, and Oct. 19, 2008. The complaint alleges that more than 31,300 barrels of oily water and crude oil were released during the spills and resulted in an observable film, sheen or discoloration on the surface of the impacted water or shoreline. The spills occurred on oil production fields in Park, Johnson and Natrona Counties and resulted in the pollutants being discharged into the tributaries or drainages of Silver Tip Creek and Salt Creek which, respectively, are tributaries to the Clarks Fork and Powder Rivers.

The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of oil into waterways and coastal areas in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. Oil spills threaten fresh water and marine environments, harming plant and animal life through physical damage and the toxicity of the oil itself, which may poison exposed organisms. For more information on the effects and cleanups of oil spills, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill.

The consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequent court approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.