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Greka Integrated Inc. fined $127,500 for underground injection violations

Release Date: 06/01/2006
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano 415-947-4307

SAN FRANCISCOThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined Greka Integrated Inc. of Santa Maria, Calif. $127,500 for unauthorized disposal of oil refinery wastewater into the facility’s injection wells, in violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The EPA cited Greka for piping refinery wastewater into their Class II underground injection control wells on the Union Sugar and the Morganti lease areas near the refinery. Class II wells are only authorized to receive fluids associated with oil and gas production operations, not industrial wastewater associated with refinery processing. Refinery wastewater can only be disposed of in Class I injection wells, which have more stringent requirements, and are therefore more protective of ground water.

“The UIC program has specific standards and well classifications which were established to ensure that different types of waste are disposed in a safe and effective manner,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Facilities must adhere to these federal standards when disposing of industrial wastewater to ensure protection of our drinking water resources.”

According to the EPA, Greka disposed of refinery wastewater in the Union Sugar lease area from at least April 2001 through December 2003. The California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, which oversees Class II UIC operations in the State, notified the EPA of the wastewater injection violations on the Morganti Lease area following inspections in October 2003.

The company, which produces crude oil, processes the oil, and manufactures a variety of asphalt products at its Santa Maria location, was ordered to cease all underground disposal of its refinery wastewater pending any future EPA authorization for such injection.

The Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control Program to provide safeguards so that injection wells do not endanger current and future underground sources of drinking water. The most accessible fresh water is stored in shallow geological formations called aquifers and is the most vulnerable to contamination. These aquifers feed our lakes, provide recharge to our streams and rivers, particularly during dry periods, and serve as resources for 92 percent of public water systems in the United States.

For more information about the Underground Injection Control program, go to: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic.html

For more information about today’s action, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/drinking/dw-enforcement.html

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