Oilfield Company Settles With EPA on Clean Water Act Violations in Arctic

An oilfield service company contracted by Royal Dutch Shell
for exploration work in the Chukchi Sea in 2012 has reached a $37,500
settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the
Clean Water Act.
EPA officials said on Dec. 8 that NANA Oilfield Services
Inc. violated federal oil spill prevention and response rules at its Deadhorse
fuel storage and distribution facility. According to the EPA, multiple
violations of Clean Water Act spill prevention rules and spill response
requirements at the facility were found. The company agreed to pay the fine and
has come into compliance with its Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures
Susan Murray, deputy vice president, Pacific for the
international oceans watchdog group Oceana, said the settlement “simply
confirms that Shell Oil and its contractors are not prepared for the challenges
of working in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean.
“The Arctic’s unforgiving conditions leave little to no
margin for error,” she said.
Facilities with the potential for oil spills and more than
1,320 gallons of above ground fuel storage capacity are required to prevent
discharges to waterways by using a detailed SPCC plan.
They must also submit a facility response plan to the EPA
before the facility increases its capacity to one million or more gallons.
These rules are designed to prevent discharges to navigable waters and
adjoining shorelines, and to demonstrate a facility’s preparedness to address a
worst case scenario oil spill.

The EPA said that NANA Oilfield Services had a spill prevention
plan at its Deadhorse facility, but had not submitted the required and more
detailed facility response plan to the EPA, despite having more than one
million gallons of fuel on site. EPA inspectors also noted that on site
employees of the company were not properly trained in spill response and could
not answer basic facility response questions. In addition, they found that a
now removed jet fuel pipeline running to the air strip lacked secondary
containment precautions that would prevent additional risk to the environment
in the event of a release.