W&T OFFSHORE, INC. CHARGED WITH VIOLATIONS OF CLEAN WATER ACT RELATED TO OFFSHORE PRODUCTION
W&T OFFSHORE, INC., a publicly traded company with offices in Houston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana, was charged yesterday with one felony count of tampering with, falsifying or rendering inaccurate a monitoring method required to be maintained under the Clean Water Act, and one misdemeanor count for the negligent discharge of oil into the waters of the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.
According to the Bill of Information filed in U.S. District Court, from at least January 1, 2009, and continuing to present, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., operated a manned, offshore facility designed for the production of oil and gas located within the geographic area known as Ewing Banks Area Block 910 (“EW 910 Platform") located in the Gulf of Mexico. W&T Offshore, Inc., was required to conduct its production operations on EW 910 Platform in accordance with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit which imposed limitations upon the type and amount of pollutants that W&T OFFSHORE, INC., was legally allowed to discharge into the Gulf of Mexico. As required by the NPDES Permit, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., collected and submitted monthly samples of its produced water discharged from EW 910 Platform into the Gulf of Mexico to a laboratory for testing to determine whether the quantity of oil and grease contained in the produced water did not exceed a daily maximum of 42mg/l and a monthly average of 29 mg/l as required by its Permit.
The Bill of Information alleges that on at least six occasions from on or about January 1, 2009, through on or about December 31, 2009, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., by and through its agents and employees acting within the scope of their agency and employment and for the intended benefit of W&T OFFSHORE, INC., tampered with, falsified or rendered inaccurate the method of collecting the monthly overboard discharge samples from EW 910 Platform to be tested for oil and grease content pursuant to the NPDES permit. The charging document further alleges that on or about November 27, 2009, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., by and through its agents and employees acting within the scope of their agency and employment and for the intended benefit of W&T OFFSHORE, INC., did negligently discharge and cause to be negligently discharged a harmful quantity of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from its offshore production facility located at EW 910 Platform.
If convicted of the felony count of tampering with, falsifying or rendering inaccurate a monitoring method required to be maintained under the Clean Water Act, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., is subject to a $500,000 fine. If convicted of the misdemeanor count of negligently discharging oil into the United States waters, W&T OFFSHORE, INC., is subject to a $200,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Interior-OIG and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-CID, and the case was prosecuted by Emily K. Greenfield and Dorothy Manning Taylor.
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