EPA fines Unocal for clean water violations

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Cali-fornia-based oil company Unocal Corp. has agreed to pay $370,000 in penalties for Clean Water Act violations at its Cook Inlet operations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week.

Unocal is the top operator of offshore oil and gas platforms in Cook Inlet.

Each of Unocal's platforms, plus two onshore plants, hold EPA permits allowing discharge of certain amounts of pollutants such as oil, grease and metals into Cook Inlet, the EPA said.

Those limits were exceeded dozens of times'' over a five-year period, according to the agency.

John Iani, head of the EPA's Seattle-based Region 10 office, which covers Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, commended Unocal for self-reporting the violations.

The company did a good job of keeping records, and there was nothing major'' in any of the violations, Iani said. However, the number of instances was too high, he said.

They kind of wanted to wipe the slate clean,'' Iani said. They were willing to step up to the plate and accept responsibility.

Unocal has set an example which I hope is followed by others who are legally required to protect the environment in their operations.''

Roxanne Sinz, Unocal spokes-person in Anchorage, said Unocal last summer initiated a review of its pollution compliance to find and remedy problems.

Then the company went to the EPA to work out a settlement, she said.

The company considers the $370,000 fine to be substantial for its Alaska operations, and Unocal did not enter into it lightly, she said.

We felt it was important to resolve the issues,'' Sinz said. Our goal is to have no violations.''

Unocal operates 10 of Cook Inlet's 17 offshore platforms. The company is shutting down two of them, the Baker and Dillon platforms, due to poor production.

Aside from the platforms, the EPA also regulates Unocal's Granite Point and Trading Bay production facilities, which Sinz said are oil-gathering stations.

The settlement agreement between Unocal and the EPA is subject to a 40-day public comment period. Terms of the settlement could change as a result of comments.

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