Pipeline Company Pleads Guilty to Charges After 29 Million Gallons Discharged

According to a Department of Justice press release issued on Monday, Summit Midstream Partners LLC has pled guilty to criminal charges arising under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The charges stemmed from a negligent discharge of “produced water” that was contaminated with oil.

According to the press release, the discharge took place in 2014, but the company “deliberately failing to immediately report the spill to federal authorities as required.” Over 700,000 barrels contaminated Blacktail Creek, located in Montana. As a result, Summit will pay a $15 million criminal fine and serve three years of probation.

“Investigations revealed that the spill occurred over 143 days and released more than 29 million gallons of contaminated waters into the environment, including tributaries of the Missouri River,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The press release added that these criminal violations add to a civil consent decree, finalized in December. That decree imposes $20 million in fines for civil violations of the same statute.