Natural gas operator fined $3.25M
By Noelle Phillips
The Denver Post
A Weld County natural gas operator will pay a $3.25 million fine and spend more than $1.5 million to upgrade one of its plants to reduce harmful air emissions in an agreement with the state, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.
DCP Operating Co. LP and five other subsidiaries of DCP Midstream LP were accused of thousands of failures to monitor and repair leaking equipment at eight natural gas processing plants, including six in Front Range counties that already are in trouble with the EPA for hazardous air quality that makes people sick and worsens climate change, according to a consent decree filed Monday in U.S. District Court of Colorado.
DCP will improve leak detection and make repairs at the six plants along the Front Range and make repairs at two additional plants, according to the consent decree.
Federal and state officials said the agreement is significant because it will force the company to better maintain its plants and pipelines that send excessive amounts of volatile organic compounds and other pollutants that worsen the region’s already poor air quality and contribute to climate change.
The fine will be split between the federal and state governments.
Under the settlement, DCP, which is based in Denver, has agreed to strengthen its leak detection and repair practices at its Greeley, Kersey/Mewbourne, Platteville, Roggen, Spindle, O’Connor and Lucerne natural gas processing plants, as well as the to-beconstructed Bighorn natural gas processing plant.
The company agreed to install equipment that leaks less pollution, repair leaking equipment faster and improve staff training for leak detection and repair, according to a news release from the Justice Department. It also will use optical gas imaging technology to improve its leak detection and to make repairs more quickly.
DCP will install a special system on two turbines at the Kersey/Mewbourne natural gas processing plant in Platteville that is intended to mitigate the harm caused by its past emissions. The project will cost an estimated $1.15 million and should reduce volatile organic compound emissions by 26 tons per year and methane emissions by 375 tons per year, the news release said.
Volatile organic compounds create ground-level ozone, also known as smog, that aggravates people’s respiratory systems. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which affects the Earth’s temperature and contributes to global warming.
A company spokeswoman on Monday said DCP already is making improvements with the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The company believes building comprehensive and enhanced leak detection monitoring and repairs at all of its Colorado gas processing facilities is consistent with its goals to reduce emissions, according to an emailed statement by Jeanette Alberg, DCP’s public affairs manager.