Koch Industries Fined for Pollution
H. JOSEF HEBERT
Jan. 13, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency today slapped Koch Industries with $35 million in fines and penalties as part of a settlement over alleged contamination of lakes and streams in six states from Missouri to Texas.
Based in Wichita, Kan., the company operates more than 35,000 miles of pipeline in the United States and Canada, and has refineries in Texas and Minnesota through its Koch Petroleum Group subsidiary.
The settlement, announced by the EPA and Justice Department, stems from allegations that the company had more than 300 oil spills from its pipelines and other oil operations, resulting in 3 million gallons of crude oil pouring into lakes and streams in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The spills polluted waterways in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri, according to the EPA.
``Today's landmark fine against Koch Industries for egregious violations of the Clean Water Act sends a strong message that those who try to profit by polluting our environment pay a price,'' said EPA Administrator Carol Browner.
Koch Industries officials in Wichita did not immediately return telephone calls.
The $30 million in fines and a commitment to make $5 million in environmental restitution represents the largest civil penalty ever levied against a single company in connection with violation of an environmental law, officials said.
The much larger fines against Exxon for the 1989 tanker disaster in Alaska involved criminal penalties.
The oil spills cited by the EPA in its case against Koch stretched across the company's pipeline system. It included a case in which 221,000 gallons of oil spilled near Payne, Okla., contaminating Keystone Lake, a popular recreation area 25 miles away.
In another case, the public water supply system near Wichita, Kan., was polluted by a spill from one of the company's pipelines, officials said.