UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement

COAL transport company Union Pacific has reached a $US1.5 million settlement agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in three states.
UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement UP, EPA reach environmental violations settlement

Image courtesy of Union Pacific

Donna Schmidt

The EPA said the settlement resolved enforcement action it took against the railroad company involving continuing operations at 20 rail yards in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, in addition to coal and oil spills in 2003 and 2004 along rail lines in all three states.

Specifically, the EPA said it cited UP for three coal spills in Colorado, six oil spills in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and violations of EPA’s spill prevention, control and countermeasure and/or facility response plan regulations at the following locations:

  • Colorado – Denver 36th Street, Burnham, Denver North, East Portal Moffatt Tunnel, Grand Junction, Kremmling, Pueblo and Rifle
  • Utah – Helper, Ogden, Provo, Roper, Salt Lake City North and Summit

  • Wyoming – Bill, Buford, Cheyenne, Green River, Laramie and Rawlins.

EPA officials said the SPCC and FRP outlines were in place to serve as the first line of defense for preventing spills and providing immediate containment measures when a spill occurred.

“Today we have secured a settlement that will help prevent spills, protect water quality and improve the safety of Union Pacific’s operations in 20 communities across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming,” EPA regional administrator Jim Martin said.

“Union Pacific has already begun putting necessary measures in place and we will ensure they continue to do so.”

Under the settlement, Union Pacific will pay the $1.5 million civil penalty with about $1.4 million going into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

The remaining $100,000 will be deposited in the US Treasury for the coal spills and stormwater violations.

The EPA also requires UP to develop a management and reporting system ensuring compliance with SPCC and FRP regulations, as well as stormwater requirements at the 20 impacted rail yards.

The rail shipper has also been ordered to designate an environmental vice-president responsible for complying with spill prevention and stormwater control requirements at its 20 rail yards.

“Union Pacific is working to ensure our response plans are up-to-date across our entire network and that our derailment response is as swift as possible while at the same time conforming to all applicable environmental laws,” Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis told the Colorado Independent.

“We are committed to protecting the environment now and for future generations.

“Our employees, customers, shareholders and the communities we serve can expect our full compliance with all laws and regulations.”

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