Company Pays $1 Million for Concealing Violation of the Clean Water Act
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that CHAMPION ES HOLDINGS, INC., (CHAMPION), a Texas corporation, pled guilty today before the Honorable Susie Morgan to a one-count Bill of Information for misprision of a felony, and was sentenced to a one-year term of probation and ordered to pay a $1 million fine and a $250,000 community service payment to the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation.
According to court documents, on or about February 23, 2010, CHAMPION’s former affiliate, Champion Technologies, Inc., entered into a Master Service Agreement with the facility operator of the Innovator, an offshore oil and gas production facility that was located 80 miles south of Empire, Louisiana, to provide chemical management services. Between October 2010 and March 2012, CHAMPION, however, failed to report to law enforcement its knowledge that the Innovator’s operator was violating the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit No. 290000 by discharging one of the chemicals CHAMPION sold it into the Gulf of Mexico to hide oil sheens. Despite the fact that CHAMPION knew the facility operator was discharging the chemical, known as Cleartron ZB-103, into the Gulf of Mexico to use as a dispersant to hide oil sheens, it nevertheless continued to supply Cleartron ZB-103 to the operator. Between October 2010 and March 2012, production foremen on the Innovator ordered a total of 4,025 gallons of Cleartron ZB-103 from CHAMPION that was injected into the produced water piping past the floatcell of the production facility and used as a dispersant to hide oil sheens from the produced water coming from the Innovator.
As part of its plea agreement, CHAMPION agreed to discontinue the sale of Cleartron ZB-103 and to provide offshore personnel with training on the Clean Water Act and its restrictions governing the use of dispersants and surfactants on offshore oil and gas platforms.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division and Department of Interior-OIG in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Greenfield of the National Security Unit was in charge of the prosecution.