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Newfield Production Company to pay $600K penalty to resolve Safe Drinking Water Act violations on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation (Utah)

Release Date: 11/05/2013
Contact Information: Britta Copt 303-312-6229; Richard Mylott 303-312-6654

(Denver, Colo. – November 5, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that Newfield Production Company (Newfield) has settled violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in the Monument Butte Well Field in Duchesne County, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. Under the terms of a consent decree lodged with the United States District Court on October 23, Newfield has agreed to pay $600,000 for failing to demonstrate financial responsibility associated with the safe operation of 442 injection wells on the Reservation from March 2009 through September 2010.

“Companies like Newfield have an obligation to demonstrate they have sufficient resources to operate responsibly in Indian country,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA enforcement director in Denver. “In this case, Newfield did not provide adequate documentation of financial reserves to ensure the protection of water resources and the safe operation of wells used to dispose production wastes.”

Under the consent decree, Newfield has agreed to secure a bond to provide proof of adequate financial assurance through the remainder of this year. The company must also comply with specific restrictions and reporting requirements to ensure that future demonstrations of financial assurance are adequate.

EPA’s Underground Injection Control program regulates the construction, operation, permitting, and closure of injection wells that place fluids underground for storage or disposal. The program requires that owners and operators of injection wells prove they have the financial means to properly plug and abandon any well should the well fail or need to be shut down. Improperly managed or abandoned wells can contaminate drinking and ground water. Making sure that companies have the financial resources to operate these wells protects drinking water sources and prevents defaults that would shift cleanup and response costs from responsible parties to taxpayers.

The proposed consent decree was published in the Federal Register on October 31 and is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

For more information on EPA’s Underground Injection control program: http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/