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Uinta Basin gas producer to fix wetland

Published February 4, 2014 5:10 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A natural gas production company has agreed to shut down a well in the Uinta Basin and restore 2.3 acres of wetlands the well damaged in a floodplain next to the Green River, according to a federal consent decree filed Tuesday in Denver's federal court.

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused Gasco Energy, a Denver-based company that operates 135 wells in the basin, with violating the Clean Water Act when it filled in wetlands while developing the site in 2007-08.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had designated the area crucial habitat for several endangered species of fish native to the Green River.

"Serious environmental and public health consequences can result from illegally filling wetlands," said Shaun McGrath, EPA's regional administrator in Denver, in a statement. "This settlement validates EPA's original administrative order and achieves the agency's goal of correcting Clean Water Act violations to protect wetlands that provide aquatic and wildlife habitat and support endangered species."

Gasco will permanently plug the offending well, remove the well pad and roads and pay a $110,000 civil penalty.

The agreement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period, is part of a settlement filed in federal court in Denver.

Brian Maffly