The Environmental Protection Agency has fined a North Dakota oil drilling company and now they need to pay 2.1 million dollars in damages because they’ve been poisoning a Native American Reservation.
The company, Slawson Exploration Co, is the biggest oil producer in Middle America, and the EPA has discovered that the pollution from its 170 oil wells and fracking has been poisoning the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation for years. According to RT.com, the EPA fined the company because they didn’t enforce all the safety mechanisms and inadequately designed, maintained and operated their storage tanks’ vapor control systems which consequently led to increased pollution in the area, mostly smog.
As research indicates, this type of pollution can increase the risk for respiratory illnesses, like pneumonia and bronchitis and aggravate existing conditions like asthma. Slawson Exploration decided not to fight this decision in court but to pay the fine as requested by the EPA. Moreover, they will also spend about 4.1 million USD on system upgrades and additional 2 million on environmental mitigation projects.
Cynthia Giles from the EPA said:
“This settlement puts Next Generation Compliance technologies to work to reduce air pollution across communities in North Dakota, including on tribal lands”.
Todd Slawson, the company president said in a statement:
“We take public health and environmental protection very seriously, which is why our company has been proactive in the evaluation of our oil and gas facilities and implemented a robust inspection and maintenance program well ahead of this announcement.”
This latest settlement against Slawson Exploration is just one more in the line of action lawsuits against oil companies from North Dakota for violations of air quality regulations.
The biggest problem in the area is the Dakota Access Pipeline project, which is planned to go across four states including North Dakota. As a result, activists have been in constant confrontations with the oil companies trying to stop the construction of this project. There have been protests and demonstrations by activists and Native American tribes living in the area especially because the pipeline’s route is supposed to go under a river less than a mile from the Standing Rock reservation. There have been concerns that the pipeline could pollute the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water source and cause irreparable damages. Reportedly, the company who’s building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partner, has suffered leaks of more than 18,800 barrels of oil in US pipeline spills since 2005. What will happen if this pipeline also leaks into the river? The consequences will be devastating for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe but the environment as well!