Gulf Oil Sued Under Clean Water Act Over Waste Disposal Concerns

Gulf Oil Limited Partnership was sued on Thursday in the District of Connecticut under the citizen suit enforcement provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The plaintiff, Conservation Law Foundation, alleged that the energy company failed to abide by a state stormwater permit and that its facility, located on a floodplain, does not do enough to prevent the possible contamination of the local environs with with hazardous waste that “may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment.”

The facility at issue, the New Haven Terminal, is a storage facility in New Haven, Connecticut. The plaintiff opened its complaint by explaining the immediate, ongoing effects of climate change on New Haven, including the increasing frequency of flooding storms and rising sea levels, arguing that the risk of flooding has increased dramatically. They said that Gulf has done nothing to mitigate these risks, to the plaintiff and New Haven’s detriment.

Specific concerns raised by the plaintiffs include the location of the terminal, which is adjacent to the local harbor, and that the facility has multiple storage tanks that are already below sea level. They said that the facility has already suffered oil spills.

The plaintiffs leveled 18 charges against Gulf Oil, 15 violations of the Clean Water Act and 3 violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The CWA charges include the failure to identify potential pollution sources, failure to eliminate non-stormwater dischargers, and failure to implement measures to manage runoff, among others. The RCRA charges pertain dumping and “imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.”

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, civil penalties “of up to $55,000 per day per violation” of the CWA, “$76,764 per day per violation” of RCRA, mitigation measures, and costs.