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U.S. EPA AND NAVAJO NATION WANT PITS CLOSED ON NAVAJO LANDS

U.S. EPA AND NAVAJO NATION WANT PITS CLOSED ON NAVAJO LANDS
 SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today ordered Texaco Inc. (NYSE: TX) to close all of its unlined pits that may endanger surface water or ground water quality on Navajo Nation territories in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Texaco order is the first action in a joint U.S. EPA and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Administration (Navajo EPA) initiative to close all unlined pits that may adversely effect ground and surface waters on Navajo Nation lands.
 "The oil and gas wastes in the unlined pits pose the potential for ground and surface water contamination," said Harry Seraydarian, U.S. EPA's Water Management Division director. "We intend to continue our work with the Navajo Nation to close these pits down."
 Sadie Hoskie, Navajo EPA director, said, "Though the Navajo Nation wishes to promote development of its natural resources, it has an obligation to protect the environment for future generations of its people."
 Estimated at 200 in number, Texaco's pits have been used to discharge oil and gas waste products. A U.S. EPA sampling of the fluids discharged to Texaco's pits showed high levels of benzene, ethyl-benzene, and toluene.
 The order requires Texaco to develop a work plan to remove and dispose of pit fluids, take soil samples from under the pits, describe how contaminated soil will be removed or remediated, and describe how the pits will be filled or permanently sealed. Texaco must also develop a plan for testing water supply wells for pollutants within a one half mile radius of the pits.
 If Texaco fails to comply with the order, it could face penalties of up to $5,000 per day for each violation.
 In addition to their action against Texaco, the U.S. EPA and the Navajo Nation will direct all oil and gas companies to cease discharge and close unlined pits in areas where ground or surface waters are threatened by contamination. Oil companies operating unlined pits in these areas will be required to take specific types of samples to determine if remediation is needed. Any attempt to close an unlined pit without taking required samples could lead to an enforcement action.
 Each operator must submit closure plans for approval. Before doing so, however, the operator will have to develop an alternative system for handling the waste fluids. The closure plans must describe sampling to be done at the site, the installation of holding tanks or appropriately lined pits, and site restoration.
 Currently, simior closing unlined pits are being implemented in the oil-producing states of Texas and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation wishes to emphasize that it will be as stringent as any other state or federal agency when it comes to protecting the environment.
 By mid-October, the U.S. EPA and the Navajo EPA will be sending information to oil and gas companies regarding closure schedules, pit sampling requirements, and liner standards for new pits. This information will also be available to the public by calling Mark Ripperda at the U.S. EPA at 415-744-1836 or Arlene Luther at the Navajo EPA at 602-871-6536. Comments on the material should be submitted to the following offices no later than November 30, 1992 to:
 U.S. EPA Navajo EPA
 75 Hawthorne St. Post Office Drawer 308
 San Francisco, CA 94105 Window Rock, AZ 86515
 Attn: Mark Ripperda (W-6-2) Attn: Arlene Luther
 -0- 09/30/92
 CONTACT: Sadie Hoskie of the Navajo EPA, 602-871-6352, or Lois Grunwald of the U.S. EPA, 415-744-1588
 (TX) CO: U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; TEXACO INC. IN: OIL ST: CA,UT,NM, AZ -- SF011 -- X759 09/30/92
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 30, 1992
Words:616
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