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Union Pacific Railroad Company to pay $1.5 million for Clean Water Act violations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming

Release Date: 02/09/2012
Contact Information: Contact Information: Donna Inman (303) 312-6201; Matthew Allen, (303) 312-6085

Union Pacific Railroad Company to pay $1.5 million for Clean Water Act violations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Company cited for oil and coal spills, inadequate prevention and planning.

Contact Information: Donna Inman (303) 312-6201; Matthew Allen, (303) 312-6085

(Denver, Colo—February 9th, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Union Pacific Railroad Company regarding alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act.

This settlement resolves a Clean Water Act enforcement action against Union Pacific that involves continuing operations at 20 rail yards in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as spills of oil and coal in 2003 and 2004 along railroad lines in all three states.

For the railyards, EPA alleges Union Pacific violated EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) regulations. These regulations are the first line of defense for preventing oil spills and providing immediate containment measures when an oil spill does occur.

“Today we have secured a settlement that will help prevent spills, protect water quality, and improve the safety of Union Pacific’s operations in 20 communities across Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming,” said Jim Martin, EPA regional administrator. “Union Pacific has already begun putting necessary measures in place and we will ensure they continue to do so.”

As part of the settlement, Union Pacific will pay a civil penalty of $1.5 million of which approximately $1.4 million will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund used by federal agencies to respond to oil spills. The remaining $100,000 will be deposited in the U.S. Treasury for the coal spills and stormwater violations. In addition, the settlement requires the company to develop a management and reporting system to ensure compliance with SPCC regulations, FRP regulations, and storm water requirements at 20 rail yards in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Union Pacific must take further actions to control stormwater runoff at the Burnham Rail Yard in Denver, which are anticipated to prevent the discharge of approximately 2,500 pounds of chemical oxygen demand, 50 pounds of nitrate, 11,000 pounds of total suspended solids, and 30 pounds of zinc annually to waters in the Denver area.

This settlement will benefit many communities in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, many of which are disadvantaged, by requiring Union Pacific to install secondary containment to safely store oil and prevent oil spills from leaving its properties. Further, it will require the company to designate an environmental vice-president responsible for complying with oil spill prevention and stormwater control requirements at the 20 railyards. The majority of the 20 locations cited in the settlement are in disadvantaged areas with significant low-income and/ or minority populations.

The complaint alleges the following violations:


    · Six oil spills in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming

    · Three coal spills in Colorado

    · Inadequate SPCC plans and/or inadequate SPCC plan implementation (e.g., inadequate secondary containment) at the following 20 rail yards:

        o Denver 36th Street, Burnham, Denver North, East Portal Moffatt Tunnel, Grand Junction, Kremmling, Pueblo, and Rifle, all in Colorado

        o Helper, Ogden, Provo, Roper, Salt Lake City North, and Summit, all in Utah

            § Also for six rail yards in Utah, failure to provide certifications and reports for storm water pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) as required by the Utah Multi-Sector General Permit.
        o Bill, Buford, Cheyenne, Green River, Laramie, and Rawlins, all in Wyoming
            § Also for the Rawlins, Wyoming rail yard, an inadequate FRP and a failed Government Initiated Unannounced Exercise

For more information on the Clean Water Act, visit EPA's compliance web page: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/index.html

For more information on Environmental Justice within EPA Region 8 please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region8/ej/index.html

Help EPA protect our nation's land, air and water by reporting violations: http://www.epa.gov/tips/