Maralex fined $89,900 over well on Southern Ute land

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(Photo: MGN Online)

DENVER – The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday they have fined Maralex Disposal for violating the Safe Water Drinking Act at a disposal well in La Plata County.

Maralex will pay a penalty of $89,900 to resolve the violations.

The EPA said they fined Maralex because it’s commercial brine disposal injunction well was faulty.

The Maralex Dara Ferguson Injection Well #1 is a large capacity disposal well that injects brine and production wastes to an injection zone approximately 8,000 feet below the surface.

The violations include failure to maintain mechanical integrity of the well, failure to monitor as required, and inaccurate reporting. The EPA discovered the issues through inspections and reports received from the company.

In May 2010, the EPA notified Maralex of the problem and ordered the company to fix it.  however, in another inspection in 2011, the planned repairs were not completed.

The EPA then ordered the company to shut down the well until repairs were completed.  Maralex passed anther inspection in May, 2011, and the company was allowed to resume using the well.

Maralax is based in Ignacio and said it will appeal the fine.

“Companies that dispose of production wastes into the subsurface are responsible for taking steps to ensure injection wells are not leaking,” said Mike Gaydosh, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Denver. “Compliance with these monitoring and mechanical integrity requirements minimizes the risk of waste fluids moving into aquifers and prevents the contamination of drinking water sources.”

The fluids which are injected into the Dara Ferguson Well contain high concentrations of saline produced water, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene.

Groundwater contamination, especially brine, is often very difficult or not possible to address and can destroy underground sources of drinking water.

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