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EPA settles lawsuit over Utah's drinking water

A map showing the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah's Uintah Basin.
The wells involved are on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah.

Texas company XTO Energy Inc. will have to pay more than $19,000 in a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it had reached a settlement with XTO, a subsidiary of Exxon-Mobil, over claims the company violated the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program at three injection wells within the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Utah’s Uinta Basin.

The Underground Injection Control program created minimum requirements and standards for underground injection wells to protect underground sources of drinking water from contamination. The UIC program also provides a means for industries and government entities to dispose of wastes and store fluids.

The three wells included in the settlement are used for the disposal of brine waste from nearby gas production wells also owned by XTO Energy Inc.

The EPA says XTO failed to provide the agency with information to transfer permits to Utah Gas Corporation in a timely manner and the company did not notify them that one of their wells had stopped working properly.

As part of the settlement, XTO did not admit nor deny the EPA’s specific allegations.

The EPA says this ruling aligns with the federal government’s commitment to ensure environmental protection in tribal communities and shows they take compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act seriously.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.