Company faces potential penalty for saltwater release


The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has issued a compliance order and notice of potential penalty against a company whose saltwater disposal lines over a 10-month period ruptured in more than a half-dozen places in DeSoto Parish, contaminating several private ponds and killing dozens of fish and some trees.

The enforcement order was filed against Heckmann Water Resources Corp. on Feb. 25. A March 22 hearing date is set in Baton Rouge to discuss the company’s preliminary response and possible imposition of a civil penalty.

Civil penalties of $27,500 to $32,500 may be assessed for each day of violation. Refusal to comply with the compliance order could result in the penalty rising to $50,000 a day, according to the compliance order posted on the LDEQ website.

A person answering the phone at Heckmann Water Resources referred The Times to Damian Georgino for comment. He did not return a phone call Friday.

The findings of fact in the LDEQ report reveal:

  • A 30-foot deep saltwater disposal line ruptured west of Kingston Baptist Church. Inspections from April 6 through April 26 revealed a 6-inch pipeline union failed, which caused about 7,139 barrels of saltwater to be released on the private property.It impacted a 1.5-acre private pond, about 8 acres of soil and 300 yards of a ditch. Cleanup consisted of excavation and disposal of 19,356 cubic yards of impacted soil, recovery and disposal of 74,797 barrels of impacted surface water and shredding impacted vegetation.

    The pond was drained and sediment layer scrapped and disposed. Dead fish were collected and disposed.

  • A saltwater disposal flow line ruptured June 18 at state Highways 5 and 175 in Kingston. An inspection May 6 revealed a 10-inch PVC line ruptured where two pieces were heat-welded together.About 1,491 barrels of saltwater spilled about a quarter-mile east of Highway 175. The water released into a pasture, ran downhill and entered a creek and traveled about 6,600 feet where a dam was put in place. About 20 to 30 dead fish were found near the dam.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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