Processing Magazine

Kentucky oil well operators plead guilty to illegal wastewater discharges

January 21, 2014

<photocredit>Jim Parkin/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

Persistent violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act have resulted in a two-year probation sentence for Kentucky oil well operators Charles L. Stinson and Ralph Dowell. Additionally, the court imposed a $45,000 fine on Stinson and Logsdon Valley Oil Co Inc for consistently ignoring orders to stop injecting hazardous fluids into sinkholes and wells in Hart County.

The violations occurred between March 13, 2008 and July 18, 2012, said David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. The defendants pleaded guilty and the fine is to be personally paid by Stinson. The Commonwealth of Kentucky will receive $25,000 of the total, $10,000 will go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the remainder will be paid to the United States. The terms of the plea agreement also stipulate that Stinson will plug the well used for illegal discharge and ensure that the abandoned site does not pose any contamination threat to underground drinking water sources. Stinson has agreed to provide the EPA with the necessary documentation proving his compliance.

RELATED: Pennsylvania treatment plant extracts oil, salts from fracking wastewater

The charges against Stinson and Dowell were brought on Aug. 15, 2012 and the operators stood trial on eight counts of violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. The duo pleaded guilty to configuring pipes so that they could inject brine water from the tank battery to sinkholes without permission. They persistently disregarded orders to discontinue their illegal practice, thus allowing hazardous materials to enter underground aquifers and threaten groundwater quality, said Maureen O'Mara, EPA special agent in charge of Kentucky criminal enforcement action.