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Fla. to sue oil company for drilling violations

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm •  Published: July 16, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's environmental agency says it is suing a Texas oil company for violating state drilling regulations at a well near the Everglades.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday that it would file a lawsuit against Dan A. Hughes Co. for using a fracking-like oil recovery practice at its Collier-Hogan well, located near endangered Florida panther habitat.

The issue first bubbled up publicly in December, after DEP learned the company was using a process called "acid stimulation," during which acid is pumped into the well to help loosen up blockages and improve the flow of oil. The DEP says the company didn't wait for state approval to use acid stimulation before moving ahead with the process.

After Collier County leaders and others voiced concerns about the practice's effects on water supplies, the DEP issued a cease-and-desist order for the well.

DEP said the company has also refused to allow the state to test samples of wastewater from the site and that it had ordered Hughes to revise its groundwater monitoring practices, which wasn't followed.

"It is clear that the company has not taken seriously the department's demands to protect Collier County families or Florida's natural resources," DEP secretary Herschel Vinyard said in a statement.

The lawsuit says DEP is seeking to halt operations at the well "until pending completion of appropriate environmental testing." The company isn't waiting for that. Hughes Co. said Tuesday that it was shutting down operations at the well.

Hughes Co. also previously abandoned plans for two other exploratory oil wells in the area. Company spokesman David Blackmon said DEP had not informed them of their intent to sue, and didn't know what regulations the state believes were violated.

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