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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us


TO: Interested Media

FROM: Tiffany Cowie, DEP Press Secretary

RE: DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.'s Letter

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. issued a letter today to Dan A. Hughes Company. Below is a copy of that letter. Feel free to reach out if you need further information.

July 3, 2014  


Ms. Kristin Kramers                                        

Dan A. Hughes Company                                                       

208 E. Houston Street                                      

Beeville, Texas 78102        


Dear Ms. Kramers:

As you know, the Department of Environmental Protection (Department), members of the Collier County Commission and families in Collier County have had numerous unanswered concerns about your activities at the Collier-Hogan well. The activities that took place on land owned by Barron Collier Partnership has left families at unease. These matters must be remedied. 

As companies across Florida have treated Florida’s natural treasures with respect, your enterprise is the only one that engaged in an unauthorized acid treatment at the Collier-Hogan well. Indeed, the results of your actions have created unease among families across the county. Our number one priority at DEP is ensuring families are safe and that our environment is protected. We are concerned that your goals may be inconsistent with ours. For some time we have worked with you to operate transparently by asking you to share information and meet with families in Collier County; however, Dan A. Hughes has moved slowly on these requests and your inaction is unacceptable. 

Because of these issues, the Department has the obligation to consider the company’s non-compliant actions that led to the Consent Order. The use of unauthorized acid treatment and Hughes’ violation of the Department’s cease and desist order on December 31, 2013, highlights the concerns of the Department regarding your course of conduct while operating in Florida. 

Additionally, with respect to the Collier-Hogan well, you must complete the following demands by July 15, 2014: 

1.      Publish dates and times that Dan A. Hughes will hold three public meetings to discuss and take public comment on your plans for the Collier-Hogan site and future operations in Collier County.

2.      Confirm whether Hughes took samples of the flowback material that was trucked off the Collier-Hogan site prior to June 23, 2014, when DEP arrived to inspect the site. If samples exist, immediately provide those samples to DEP. If Hughes did not take samples of the flowback material, prior to trucking off-site, provide an explanation as to why and who, specifically at Dan A. Hughes, made the decision not to sample these materials and why DEP was not notified of this action. 

3.      Publicly announce media and public access to your operations to ensure that the previous violations are not ongoing. 

4.      Publicly commit to testify before the County Commission’s July 8 meeting to discuss your current practices and long term plans.

5.      Provide an explanation of the agreement between Dan A. Hughes and the facility that agreed to accept the flowback material to provide full assurance that this material is being disposed of appropriately to safeguard the public. Also include a copy of the renewed pretreatment permit issued by Miami-Dade County, as the current permit you provided to DEP expired on May 31, 2014. 

6.      Provide the revisions of the groundwater monitoring plan as required by DEP to address the deficiencies previously identified by the Department. This would include a prompt schedule of when Dan A. Hughes will be conducting on-site testing. 

7.      Provide the names and qualifications of the individuals at Dan A. Hughes who are responsible for implementing the requirements of this Consent Order and ensuring compliance on-site. We are aware that you have released the environmental compliance consultant and project engineer who were working with DEP on the implementation of the Consent Order, and we ask that you provide an explanation for the release of these individuals. It is important that we have the information necessary to determine the expertise of those employed by Dan A. Hughes to protect the public. 

8.     Provide the name of your recommended independent third-party expert that will conduct the study under the Consent Order. The Consent Order required Dan A. Hughes to provide a third-party expert acceptable to DEP and a scope of work within 60 days, which was June 7, 2014. The independent third-party expert you initially proposed was rejected by DEP because, as a prior contractor for Dan A. Hughes, that company (Stantec) had a clear conflict of interest. The independence of the third-party expert is critical to ensure unbiased information. 

9.    The Company must provide every 10 days a status report as to the utilization of its Spill Prevention and Cleanup Plan to ensure that proper safety mechanisms are in place. Aerial photographs and on the ground assessments have exposed oil sheen on the ground that are allegedly the result of Hughes’ techniques of spraying oil into truck tanks. It is important to know whether or not this activity is part of the Spill Prevention and Cleanup Plan. 

These actions are not negotiable and require your immediate response. Should you refuse, delay or not properly follow through on any of these demands, DEP will take any and all regulatory and enforcement action available to it regarding Dan A. Hughes.

This letter offers a tremendous opportunity for your company to begin rebuilding the trust that your past actions have damaged, and I look forward to your immediate response.




Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.



cc: Collier County

Collier County Water-Sewer District

Thomas G. Mosher

Matthew Schwartz

Preserve Our Paradise

Conservancy of Southwest Florida