EPA Orders Oil Companies To Monitor Public Water Supply And Private Wells In Poplar, Montana December 20, 2010
Drinking water currently safe for consumption; order requires contingency plan for treatment or alternate supply
In response to recent detections of low levels of oil production-related contaminants in the public water supply that serves the city of Poplar, Montana, and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued an order to Murphy Exploration & Production Co. (Murphy), Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc. (Pioneer), and Samson Hydrocarbons Co. (Samson).
EPA's order, issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act, requires the companies to monitor Poplar's municipal water supply wells and also the private wells of residents in the potentially affected area, upon resident request. The order also requires the companies to provide additional water treatment and/or alternate supplies if EPA determines the groundwater in wells is becoming a public health risk. EPA's action ensures a continued safe supply of drinking water to the residents of Poplar, Montana and the Fort Peck Reservation.
Murphy, Pioneer and Samson are, directly or through corporate acquisition, historic oil producers in the East Poplar oil field. The oil field has several known contaminated groundwater plumes caused by past production practices.
"This order is necessary to ensure that more than 3,000 people who rely on the Poplar public water system have safe drinking water, now and in the future," said Jim Martin, EPA's regional administrator in Denver. "While treated water from the city's system is currently safe to drink, we expect the quality of the groundwater used by the system's wells to degrade over time. As companies responsible for historic production in the area, EPA is requiring Murphy, Pioneer and Samson to increase monitoring and prepare a contingency plan to provide an alternate water source."..............