Owner of leaking saltwater pipeline in Walnut Hill has long list of EPA violations

WALNUT HILL — A company that owns a rural Walnut Hill drilling operation blamed for spilling an unknown amount of saltwater over the weekend, has been the subject of multiple legal actions, including a 61-count complaint filed in 2013 by the Illinois Attorney General.

In that complaint, Attorney General Lisa Madigan called Petco Petroleum Corp., “the worst polluter in the field of Illinois oil production.”

Madigan’s complaint claimed Petco Petroleum repeatedly failed to maintain and upgrade its wells and drilling equipment to prevent spills onto the ground and into waterways, and documented 61 counts of water pollution violations during the previous four years due to recurring oil spills and salt water brine releases at the company’s wells near St. Elmo in Fayette County. .

In 1999, Petco Petroleum was found guilty of violating the Illinois Environmental Protection Act in Jefferson County Circuit Court and ordered to pay civil penalties and attorney’s fees and to submit a preventive maintenance plan.

In 2005, an enforcement action was filed under the Illinois Oil and Gas Act in Sangamon County Circuit Court for 168 spills. In 2006, the IPCB imposed civil penalties and ordered the company to cease and desist from violating the Environmental Protection Act.

In all, more than $350,000 in civil penalties have been imposed on the company.