OIL TO PAY FOR KILLING DAKOTA BIRDS
Oil company agrees to plead guilty in deaths of birds in North Dakota waste ponds, pay $12,000
October 24, 2011 (AP via Washington Post)
"One of seven oil companies charged with killing migratory birds during drilling operations in North Dakota has agreed to plead guilty and pay $12,000…Slawson Exploration Co. Inc…was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with killing 12 birds that died after allegedly landing in oil waste pits in western North Dakota from May 6 through June 20… Slawson will pay…$1,000 per bird…to the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation…The maximum penalty for each misdemeanor charge under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is six months in prison and a $15,000 fine…
"Six other oil companies have pleaded not guilty to charges that their oil waste pits killed birds. They were arraigned last month in U.S. District Court in Bismarck…Slawson accounted for the bulk of the 28 dead birds discovered by federal wildlife officials in uncovered waste pits operated by the companies in May and June. Most of the birds were ducks and none were identified as being endangered. Killing endangered species can lead to felony charges that bring fines of up to $250,000."
Probbing the North Dakota oil pits for carcasses because they didn’t learn to do better. (click to enlarge)
"Companies in North Dakota [the nation’s fourth-largest oil state, producing] about 450,000 barrels of oil daily from about 6,000 wells,] are required to cover the so-called reserve pits with netting if they are open for more than 90 days after drilling operations. The waste pits, which can contain oil, diesel, drilling muds and chemicals, are about the size of a large swimming pool, and birds sometimes mistake them for a good place to land.
"Also charged…are ConocoPhillips…Newfield…Brigham Oil and Gas …Continental Resources…Petro Hunt…and Fidelity…[A] ll seven companies have previously been fined for violating the Migratory Bird Act…North Dakota regulators are considering banning the oil waste pits and requiring companies to recycle liquid drilling waste amid a spate of toxic discharges and an increasing number of migrating birds that have died by mistaking the polluted ponds for fresh water. State officials have said companies have sometimes foregone netting because fines can be cheaper than installing and maintaining netting…[R]egulators in June levied $3 million in fines against 20 companies…"