Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UP Reaches Settlement in Coal, Oil Spills

Union Pacific Railroad and the US Environmental Protection Agency have reached a settlement regarding spills of coal and oil by trains along railroad lines in three Western U.S. states.

“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 in announcing the settlement.

Specifically, UP had been accused of causing six oil spills within the three states in 2003 and 2004, and also three spills of loads of coal in Colorado during the same time period. The EPA also said the company had an inadequate spill prevention, control and countermeasure program in place at the time.

Under the agreement, UP is required to pay a $1.5 million fine, $1.4 million of which would be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used by federal agencies to respond to oil spills.

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

The settlement also requires UP to develop a management and reporting system to ensure compliance with EPA regulations, and storm water requirements at 20 rail yards in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

As part of that, UP is required by the EPA to name an environmental vice-president, who would be responsible for complying with oil spill prevention and stormwater control requirements at the 20 rail yards.

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