Group sues to stop oil companies from dumping waste into the Gulf

The Center for Biological Diversity this week filed a formal challenge of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s new permit allowing oil companies to dump waste including fracking chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico.

In December, the environmental group sent a required “notice of intent to sue” letter to the agency warning that if it did not rescind the new permit that it would go to court to challenge the decision. On Monday (Feb. 12), the group filed a “petition for review” requesting the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the permit decision.

“The Trump administration is letting oil companies dump toxic fracking chemicals into the Gulf with no regard for the risks or the law,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the center. “That’s just unacceptable. The EPA is supposed to protect water quality, not give oil companies free rein to use our oceans as their garbage disposal.”

The EPA did not adequately explore the environmental effects of disposing of wastes in the Gulf, the group argued in its lawsuit notice.

“The NPDES Permit allows oil companies to dump unlimited amounts of produced water, including chemicals used in fracking and other well stimulations, from these facilities into the Gulf of Mexico, along with drill cuttings and fluids, well treatment fluids, and other wastes,” the letter said.

“The chemicals present in such wastes include dangerous chemicals like benzene, arsenic, lead, mercury, phenol formaldehyde resins, and hexavalent chromium that can have myriad negative effects on marine wildlife,” the group said. “Yet EPA issued the NPDES permit without consulting with the expert wildlife agencies on the potential impacts of the permit on threatened and endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico or their critical habitat”

In December, an EPA spokesman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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