March 23, 2023

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CWA CrimeBox For the week of Mar 13 to Mar 19, 2023

Environmental Historic Conviction Fiscal Year: 2013, CR_2505 (Louisiana)

Coffee filters used to doctor oily wastewater samples – drilling platform owner sentenced $1million for negligent discharge into the Gulf of Mexico

The following summarizes one of sixty-six Clean Water Act Prosecutions in Louisiana since 1990

Environmental crime doesn’t pay in the USA.  This oil and gas production company was hit with a massive fine for negligent discharge in violation of permit and providing false information.

Employees of a contractor on an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico thought it would be a good idea to help the rig save money on wastewater treatment expenses.

Running oily produced water samples from the drilling platform through a coffee filter, the filtered samples submitted to the lab were found to meet conditions for direct discharge to the Gulf on half a dozen occasions in 2009.

The dirty trick was caught by the collaboration of a number of agencies, including the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, called out to inspect the platform on another matter.

The Louisiana State and federal  EPA Criminal Investigation Unit worked together to investigate;  the owner of the platform was charged under the Clean Water Act and found guilty in federal district court in Louisiana in 2013, sentenced to three years probation, $700,000 federal fine and $300,000 in community service payments.

If the employees’ brilliant and effective filtration plan could have been scaled up to treat the entire lot of produced wastewater, this platform would have been in legitimate compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination permit, and saved seven figures for the staff coffee fund.

Federal fines: $700,000 Community Service/Restitution: $300,000; Probation: 36 months

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