The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Greka Oil and Gas Inc. on Tuesday to immediately comply with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or face fines of up to $32,500 per day, for each violation.

The same day, yet-another spill sullied the embattled North County company, bringing to at least 20 the total number of incidents there this month.

(Click here to see the county’s list of incidents in January.)

Thus far, the biggest spill occurred on Jan. 5, when about 50,000 gallons of crude oil were released into the environment, officials said.

“This order ensures Greka will fully comply with all federal requirements, or face steep penalties,” said Daniel Meer, Chief of the Response, Planning and Assessment Branch for the Superfund Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Failure to cooperate will result in serious consequences for this company.”

Per the order, Greka must immediately remove all oil and hazardous substances released into a tributary of Zaca Creek. Water flows continuously though this unnamed tributary, downstream to Zaca Creek, through the Santa Ynez River, and into the Pacific Ocean, EPA officials said.

Meanwhile, the latest incident occurred at Greka’s “Bell Lease” facility on Palmer Road in northern Santa Barbara County.

“This is the same problem-plagued facility that the County previously shut down Dec. 7, 2007,” said William Boyer, communications director with the County of Santa Barbara, in a statement.

On Dec. 7, emergency officials responded to a spill there that included more than 58,600 gallons of unrefined crude oil, Boyer said.

The Palmer Road facility was one of four that recently had been temporarily shut down by the county, so it was not operating at the time of the alleged spill.

But county firefighters and hazardous materials experts were already taking part in a cleanup effort there, and found crude oil coming from a 12-inch pipe that the county previously had ordered Greka Energy to repair or plug.

“The unrefined crude oil was coming into the pipe due to accumulated rain water in a retention basin that the County also had previously ordered Greka to cover,” Boyer said. “When County firefighters arrived on scene, neither the pipe nor the pond had been fixed by Greka according to the previously issued violation notice.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the Jan. 29 incident involved about 8,400 gallons of unrefined crude oil and oil-contaminated water.