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Press Release

Former Fairview Resident Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Violating the Clean Water Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – Yesterday, DAKOTA BRENNAN GRAY, of Carmen, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to a single-count Information charging him with negligently discharging oil into a water of the United States, in violation of the Clean Water Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.

On December 2, 2020, Gray was charged by Information with violating the Clean Water Act.  The Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological quality of the Nation’s waters.  In addition, the Clean Water Act was enacted to prevent, reduce and eliminate water pollution in the United States and to conserve the waters of the United States for the protection and propagation of fish and aquatic life and wildlife, for recreational purposes, and for the use of such waters for public drinking water, agricultural, and industrial purposes.  Among other offenses, the Clean Water Act prohibits the negligent discharge of oil or a hazardous substance in harmful quantities into a water of the United States.

Yesterday, Gray pleaded guilty to discharging crude oil into the Cottonwood Creek in Major County, Oklahoma.  At the hearing, Gray admitted that he opened the valves on a tank battery that contained approximately 129 barrels of crude oil.  Gray discharged the crude oil onto the ground and most of the oil eventually spilled into Cottonwood Creek, which is a tributary stream that flows approximately 22 miles from its headwaters in Major County northeast to is confluence with the Cimarron River near Orienta, Oklahoma.  The Cimarron River flows to the Arkansas River, the Mississippi River, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

A response team from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the tank battery’s owners, participated in the cleanup and recovery operation.  Response actions included the placement of rigid booms, sorbent pads, and an underflow dam to recover and remove the crude oil from Cottonwood Creek and the accompanying shoreline.  Due to the prompt response and cleanup efforts, inspectors did not observe any permanent contamination of the affected area during follow-up inspections.

At yesterday’s combined plea and sentencing hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell accepted Gray’s guilty plea and sentenced him to serve three years of probation. 

"Enforcement of the Clean Water Act protects public health and the environment," said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester.  "I commend the dedicated efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their investigative efforts and rapid response to mitigate the impact of the pollution." 

"Our nation’s environmental laws are designed to protect our communities and our natural resources," said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Brooks of EPA’s Southwest Area Office.  "EPA will continue to hold individuals responsible for their environmental crimes and the resulting harm."        

This case is the result of an investigation by the EPA – Criminal Investigation Division.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown.

Reference is made to public filings for more information.

Updated April 8, 2021