Recently in Environmental Disclosure: Fugitive Emissions

As we’ve posted in the past, public companies must generally disclose environmental legal proceedings in various reports to the SEC, and whether or not those proceedings have a material effect on the company’s financial position. Companies may also disclose business risks related to current or pending environmental regulation.

Below is the juiciest stuff we could find that was filed with EDGAR in the past week.

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  • Antero Resources LLC | Form 10-Q | 4/11/2012

In March 2011, we received orders for compliance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“the EPA”) relating to certain of our activities in West Virginia. The orders allege that certain of our operations at several well sites are in non-compliance with certain environmental regulations pertaining to unpermitted discharges of fill material into wetlands or waters that are potentially in violation of the Clean Water Act. We have responded to all pending orders and are actively cooperating with the relevant agencies. No fine or penalty relating to these matters has been proposed at this time, but we believe that these actions will result in monetary sanctions exceeding $100,000. We are unable to estimate the total amount of such monetary sanctions or costs to remediate these locations in order to bring them into compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations.

The Company has been named in separate lawsuits in Colorado and Pennsylvania in which the plaintiffs have alleged that our oil and natural gas activities exposed them to hazardous substances and damaged their properties and their persons. The plaintiffs have requested unspecified damages and other injunctive or equitable relief. The Company denies any such allegations and intends to vigorously defend itself against these actions. We are unable to estimate the amount of monetary or other damages, if any, that might result from these claims.

 

Our interstate gas pipelines are involved in remediation activities related to certain facilities and locations for polychlorinated biphenyl, mercury contamination, and other hazardous substances. These activities have involved the EPA, various state environmental authorities and identification as a potentially responsible party at various Superfund waste disposal sites. At December 31, 2011, we have accrued liabilities of $10 million for these costs. We expect that these costs will be recoverable through rates.

We also accrue environmental remediation costs for natural gas underground storage facilities, primarily related to soil and groundwater contamination. At December 31, 2011, we have accrued liabilities totaling $8 million for these costs.

 

  • UIL HOLDINGS CORP | Form 8-K | 4/10/2012

Berkshire formerly owned a site on East Street (the East Street Site) in Pittsfield, MA that was used for gas manufacturing operations. The East Street Site is part of a larger site known as the GE–Pittsfield/Housatonic River Site. The East Street Site is listed on the MDEP list of confirmed disposal sites. Berkshire sold the East Street Site to the General Electric Company (GE) in the 1970s and was named a potentially responsible party by the EPA in 1990. GE filed suit against Berkshire in 2000 seeking reimbursement of and contribution toward costs incurred by GE in responding to releases of hazardous substances by a predecessor in interest to Berkshire at the East Street Site. Berkshire was found liable to GE under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Materials Release Prevention and Response Act for costs that GE has and will incur in response to historic releases by a predecessor in interest to Berkshire. In December 2002, Berkshire reached a settlement with GE (the Settlement Agreement) which provides, among other things, a framework for Berkshire and GE to allocate various monitoring and remediation costs at the East Street Site. GE previously made several requests for contribution under the terms of the Settlement Agreement. In September 2011, GE sent Berkshire a letter demanding approximately $1.1 million which GE believes represents Berkshire’s share of response costs incurred by GE at the East Street Site from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2010. The parties are continuing their discussions regarding GE’s claim. Berkshire expects that it and GE will continue to operate under the terms of the Settlement Agreement in connection with the East Street Site. As of December 31, 2011, Berkshire has accrued approximately $2.7 million for these and future costs incurred by GE in responding to releases of hazardous substances by Berkshire at the East Street Site.

 

We have been informed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is investigating the accuracy of fugitive emissions monitoring statements and records provided by some of our current and former employees to certain customers in West Texas. We are cooperating with the EPA investigation and, in response to subpoenas, have provided information to the EPA. While we do not believe the ultimate outcome of this matter will have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows, this investigation could result in fines, civil or criminal penalties, or other administrative action.

 

We have received notice of a governmental investigation concerning an environmental incident which occurred in February 2011, outside on the premises of our Cudahy, California facility. We acquired this facility as part of the acquisition in October 2010 of the assets and ongoing business operations of General Testing and Inspection, Inc. (“GTI”), a business which provides in-house or shop inspection and non-destructive testing at the Cudahy premises. On February 11, 2011, while liquid hazardous waste was being pumped into the tanker truck of an unaffiliated certified hazardous waste transporter at the Cudahy facility, a chemical reaction occurred that caused an emission of a vapor cloud. No human injury or property damage was reported or appears to have been caused as a result of the incident. The incident was investigated by the L.A. Country Fire Department (the “Fire Department”) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). At the conclusion of the Fire Department’s investigation, the Fire Department imposed on the Company a fine in the amount of $4,000 for alleged violations of the California Health and Safety Code in April 2011, which was paid shortly thereafter.

The Company received no further governmental communications or notices concerning fines or sanctions related to the incident until January 13, 2012, when we received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California addressed to the Company, GTI and an employee of the Company. These subpoenas were issued in connection with an EPA criminal investigation. The subpoena received by the Company requested documents and information relating to, among other things, our handling, identification, storage and disposal of hazardous waste, training records, corporate environmental policies, acquisition of GTI and any ongoing organization relationship with GTI, and analytical results of the tests concerning the hazardous materials involved in the incident. In April 2012, we were informed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California that we are a target of a criminal investigation into potential violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The violations are alleged to be related to purportedly improper storage and labeling of hazardous waste at the Cudahy facility. This U.S. Attorney’s Office also raised a concern about a possible obstruction of justice issue involving the conduct of one or more of our employees at this facility. Upon receiving the subpoenas, we engaged our outside legal counsel to assist us in conducting an investigation concerning the incident, including interviews with our current employees. To date, we have produced documents in response to the subpoena, and are aware of at least one of our employees having testified before the grand jury.

While management cannot predict the ultimate outcome of this matter, based on our internal investigation to date, management does not believe the outcome will have a material effect on the Company’s financial condition or results of operations.

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