The ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP Clean Water Act Settlement
(Washington, DC - October 16, 2014) – WASHINGTON — Under a settlement agreement with the United States, ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP) will pay a $1 million civil penalty and perform corrective measures to resolve claims by the U.S. under the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of unauthorized discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform into the Gulf of Mexico, announced the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is the first joint judicial enforcement action involving BSEE and EPA claims in response to alleged violations of both the Clean Water Act and OCSLA.
- Injunctive Relief
- Health Effects and Environmental Benefits
- Environmental Mitigation Projects
- Civil Penalty
- Comment Period
Overview of Company
ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP) is a limited partnership company formed on March 6, 2009, by ATP Oil & Gas Corporation and GE Energy Financial Services to own the offshore oil and gas platform at issue in this case, called the “ATP Innovator.”
This settlement resolves the claims alleged against ATP-IP in the complaint that the United States filed on February 11, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The United States filed the complaint, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a Bureau of the Department of the Interior, to address violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The complaint alleges ATP-IP violated Section 311(b)(3) of the CWA when oil and other pollutants were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from the ATP Innovator. The complaint also alleges that ATP-IP is liable for injunctive relief under OCSLA, as the owner of the ATP Innovator, in order to address the physical piping and produced water treatment units on the rig. In particular, the complaint alleges that a hidden piping configuration was being used to inject a chemical dispersant into the facility’s wastewater discharge outfall pipe to mask excess amounts of oil being discharged into the ocean. BSEE located the metal tube connected to the effluent outfall pipe during an inspection of the ATP Innovator in March 2012. EPA’s regulations, 40 CFR Part 110, prohibit the addition of dispersants or emulsifiers to oil to be discharged that would circumvent the CWA’s discharge prohibition. The claims against ATP Oil & Gas Corporation, the operator of the rig, remain for future resolution.
The ATP Innovator is no longer in operation. The settlement will ensure that future use of ATP-IP’s Innovator will be in compliance with the CWA and OCSLA. The settlement requires ATP-IP to:
- remove the dispersant injection connection from the facility’s wastewater discharge pipe, permanently seal the injection point, and submit documentation of the removal and sealing;
- provide written notice to DOJ, EPA and BSEE when additional wastewater treatment or surface production-safety equipment is installed and when ATP-IP first sells, salvages, leases or uses the facility;
- submit a report, every six months, on the status of the ATP Innovator, including location, ownership, and operation status;
- prior to any future operation in U.S. waters:
- certify that the facility has sufficient wastewater treatment equipment and operational plans to meet and maintain NPDES permit discharge limits and to prevent unlawful discharge of pollutants to offshore waters, at all times;
- certify that the facility surface production-safety systems will be maintained in accordance with BSEE regulations; and
- certify that all facility operations will be performed in a safe and workmanlike manner in accordance with BSEE regulations.
- include language in contractual or lease agreement for future use of the facility in U.S. waters that requires the operator to have an independent audit of wastewater treatment operations and surface production-safety systems.
Health Effects and Environmental Benefits
Oil spills are known to cause both short and long-term impacts to human health and ecosystems. Oil in a water body can exhibit oxygen demand that can suffocate wildlife. Oil emulsions may stick to the gills of fish or coat and destroy algae or other plankton. Floating oil may reduce the re-aeration of the water surface and, in conjunction with emulsified oil, may interfere with photosynthesis. Oil slicks can kill birds, contaminate food sources, reduce breeding animals and plants, and contaminate nesting habitats. Oil spills can cause long-term effects years later even if the oil remains in the environment for relatively short periods of time. Petroleum oils can also undergo oxidation and polymerization reactions and can form tars that persist in the environment for years. EPA’s Section 311 enforcement efforts and this settlement agreement helps mitigate and prevent these harms.
ATP-IP will pay a $1 million penalty for its CWA 311(b)(3) violations. The penalty will be paid into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used to clean up oil spills.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.
For more information, contacts:
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, 6RC-EW
Dallas, Texas 75202-2733
Water Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
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