JACKSON — A Texas oil company involved in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale project has agreed to pay a $60,000 penalty for withdrawing water from a stream without a permit.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality tells The Enterprise-Journal Halcon Operating Co., based in Houston, agreed to pay the sum for taking water from Buffalo River in Wilkinson County before getting DEQ permission.
The company withdrew some 7.5 million gallons over a nine-day period from a site near the confluence of the Buffalo and the Little Buffalo River northwest of Centreville, according to DEQ.
On May 21, 2014, Halcon published a notice of intent in a newspaper to pump water from the Buffalo, then withdrew water from May 22-30.
However, according to state law, at least 10 days must pass after a notice is published before approval is granted, “and a public hearing accorded any person whose rights may be adversely affected by such approval.”
“Commencing water withdrawal before permit issuance undermines the regulatory program at issue,” said DEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur in a statement.
“The purpose of the statutorily-required public comment period is to provide the public an opportunity to provide input on the proposed use of water resources. That input along with other factors could affect the terms of the permit prior to it being issued.”
The DEQ issued a permit for the withdrawal on June 11.
Halcon agreed to pay the penalty in lieu of a formal hearing.
Halcon spokesman Jordan Beadling released the following statement from the company: “Halcón Operating Co. Inc. unintentionally allowed a contractor to withdraw water after a permit application was submitted but before it was issued in Wilkinson County. The company was permitted to draw water from one section, but the contractor drew water from another area.
“Halcón regrets that the situation occurred and continues to work with its employees and contractors to ensure it doesn’t happen again. There were no environmental or safety damages associated with this incident, and the company worked closely with the DEQ to resolve it satisfactorily.”