Monroe County Oil Company Owner Sentenced for Illegally Dumping 50 Gallons of Brine Water Per Week
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Donald E. Hercher, 67, of Sycamore Valley, Ohio was sentenced in U.S. District Court to a $70,000 fine, four days in prison and two years of probation for violating the Clean Water Act.
Benjamin C. Glassman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Jeffrey Martinez, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Craig W. Butler, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
According to court documents, the defendant owned Hercher Oil Company in Monroe County, which operates approximately 30 oil and gas wells. He was discharging approximately 50 gallons of oily brine water per week from oil and gas wells into a roadside ditch near Rias Run, which eventually flows into the Ohio River.
Hercher pleaded guilty on January 12 to unpermitted discharge under the Clean Water Act. He was also sentenced to pay $5,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and complete 104 hours of community service in Monroe County.
Hercher will be required to submit a statement to Southeast Ohio Oil and Gas Producers and Ohio Oil and Gas Association, cautioning others in the oil and gas industry to avoid taking similar actions. Likewise, he has been ordered to prepare an article to be published in at least three trade journals in which he educates the readers on the “Mississippian Exemption” and how it has no application to the Waterways of the United States.
Hercher must register all of his wells and ensure they are within compliance with state laws within 90 days.
Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the U.S. and Ohio EPA and BCI, as well as Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Marous, who is representing the United States in this case.