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EPA hits Colorado Natural Gas Processing Plant with $1m fine

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Colorado have hit the owner of a Colorado Natural Gas Processing Plant with $1m fine.

Enterprise Gas Processing LLC and Enterprise Products Operating LLC (Enterprise) found themselves in the crosshairs of the EPA, the state, and the Justice Department, who joined forces in a concerted effort to address the violation.

Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division was direct about the enforcement and settlement. He said, “All gas refining and processing facilities must comply with the Clean Air Act. This settlement includes important provisions to improve leak detection, repair practices and staff training, which applied here will help protect public health in western Colorado.”

EPA steps in to enforce air pollution actions

The case centered around the Meeker Gas Plant in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, where processes and federal regulations were violated. These included the leak detection and repair requirements connected with the act and state laws, which endangered the surrounding environment of the Meeker Gas Plant and its residents.

Enterprise was the focus of a complaint that alleged it violated the Clean Air Act and permitted pollution levels in Colorado. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants were produced unregulated at the site.

The dangerous development of ground-level ozone was one of the main concerns the Justice Department, EPA, and the state had about the Meeker facility. When the VOCs are prevalent, the surrounding soil and area can be detrimental to people’s health.

Ailments can include increased respiratory illness, heart conditions, and the triggering of asthmatic reactions. Older members and children were seriously at risk in the surrounding Colorado area due to the VOCs and the methane gasses that the plant produced.

Enterprise will now pay a $1m civil penalty, half of which will be split between the state of Colorado and the federal government. The money will be used to help fund “projects to benefit disproportionately impacted communities through the state’s environmental justice grant program.”

Enterprise committed to the federal government to install equipment that leaks less pollution into the atmosphere. A compliance review of leak detection and repair requirements, with an added aim to repair existing leaking equipment faster.

“The protection of Colorado’s air quality made possible through this settlement with Enterprise is a testament to the power of collaboration between dedicated state and federal public officials,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “We are proud to support the state’s Air Pollution Control Division as it continues to lead the way to reduce air pollution from oil and gas operations and pursue better air for all Coloradans.”

Image: Ideogram.

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