Gulfport Energy Employee pleads guilty, sentenced for negligently discharging pollutants into West Cote Blanche Bay
CLARIFICATION PRESS RELEASE
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced a clarification related to an oilfield production company employee’s guilty plea and sentencing for dumping polluted water into West Cote Blanche Bay.
Brian Osborn, 43, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to one count of negligent discharge of pollutants. Last Wednesday, he was sentenced to one day in prison and one year of supervised release, and he was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The evidence presented at the guilty plea showed that Gulfport Energy discharged produced water into West Cote Blanche Bay from June 2011 until March 2012. Finley clarified that according to the guilty plea, Osborn, who was Gulfport Energy Corporation’s operation manager for the platform, should have been aware of the problem. Additionally, Finley clarified that the problem was not timely addressed and the platform continued to illegally discharge the produced water at certain production rates over a 10-month period. Osborn was found to be an officer within Gulfport Energy Corporation who became aware of the defective nature of the platform, and who had the responsibility to fix any deficiency causing illegal discharges. Produced waters are left over after separating oil from drainage fluids. The pollutants should have been disposed of via barge, injection well or other approved method.
Gulf Port Energy pleaded guilty and was sentenced on one count of negligent discharge of pollutants on October 27, 2014. The company was ordered to pay $1.5 million. Gulfport paid a $1.125 million fine for violating the Clean Water Act. The company also paid $375,000 in community service for a total of $1.5 million. Of the $375,000, $100,000 was paid to the Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit; $100,000 was paid to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality; $125,000 was paid to the Public Oyster Seed Ground Development Account within the Conservation Fund administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; and $50,000 was paid to Southern Environmental Enforcement Network.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality-Criminal Investigations Division conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie prosecuted the case.