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Press Release

Oil and Gas Company Fined $400,000 for Failing to Provide Notification of a Hazardous Discharge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that WALTER OIL & GAS COMPANY, a Texas corporation residing in Houston, was sentenced today on a one-count Bill of Information which charged the company with failing to provide notification to the National Response Center of a hazardous discharge, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Section 1321(b)(5)(C). This charge relates to WALTER OIL & GAS COMPANY’s oil and gas production in the Grand Isle area of the Gulf of Mexico. The company previously entered a guilty plea on December 22, 2015.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown ordered WALTER OIL & GAS COMPANY to pay a total monetary penalty of $400,000 and serve a two-year term of probation. The $400,000 monetary penalty will be divided as follows: $320,000 to the United States Treasury, $40,000 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, $30,000 to the Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit and $10,000 to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network.

“Our federal and state law enforcement partners are committed to protecting our environment,” stated U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr.  “We will continue to demand that businesses not illegally pollute the waterways that sit at the center of our culture and economy.”

“The Coast Guard Investigative Service places high priority on the protection of our delicate maritime environment.  We will continue to work hand in hand with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who, by their actions, place that environment at peril,” said William Hicks, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Service Gulf Region Office in New Orleans.

“Developing domestic sources of energy must be done responsibly, safely and without threatening public health or the environment,” said Doug Parker, Director of EPA’s criminal enforcement division. “The defendant failed to report illegal discharges of production waste fluids believed to be extremely toxic to aquatic environments, and this type of illegal activity compromises the hard work that state, local and federal partners have invested to restore the Gulf of Mexico.  Today’s sentencing demonstrates that when companies damage the environment and mislead government officials, they will be held accountable for their actions.”

“The blatant discharge of waste onto our land and into our waterways is an illegal and hazardous act that causes serious harm to human health and the environment,” said Dr. Chuck Carr Brown, DEQ Secretary. “DEQ continues to work closely with its local, state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that any person or business found to be in violation of environmental laws in the state will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA-CID”), the Criminal Investigation Division of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ-CID”), and the Coast Guard Investigative Service Gulf Region (“CGIS”) in investigating this matter.   Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri was in charge of the prosecution.

Updated March 10, 2016