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Courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Gasco Energy Inc. drilled this natural gas production well in the floodplain of the Green River and illegally filled over two acres of wetlands that are critical habitat for several endangered species of fish. The floodplain area is part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and is under several feet of water for two or more weeks in the spring in normal precipitation years, enough to partially or completely submerge the well. The EPA said Tuesday that Gasco has agreed to permanently close the well and restore approximately 2.3 acres of damaged wetlands.
Uinta Basin gas producer to fix wetland

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 04 2014 04:36 pm • Last Updated Feb 04 2014 10:50 pm

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.

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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.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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