DENVER — Weld County natural-gas operator DCP Operating Co. LP and five other subsidiaries of DCP Midstream LP will pay $3.25 million in a settlement over harmful leaks from its natural-gas processing plants.
The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Colorado announced the settlement Monday. The agreement “will strengthen leak detection and repair practices at eight natural gas processing plants in Weld County, Colorado, located within the Denver Metro/North Front Range Ozone Nonattainment Area,” according to a statement announcing the settlement.
The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, along with a complaint that alleges that DCP violated federal and state requirements for leak detection-and repair, “resulting in excess emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other pollutants to the atmosphere.”
As part of the settlement, DCP is required to pay the $3.25 million civil penalty and take corrective actions.
“Leaks from equipment like valves, pumps, and connectors are a significant source of harmful air pollutants,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a prepared statement. “Enforcement actions like this are critical to improving air quality, particularly in places facing air quality challenges like Weld County.”
“EPA continues to deliver cleaner air through the rigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker said in a prepared statement. “This settlement will reduce emissions of over 288 tons of volatile organic compounds and 1,300 tons of methane from production areas near northern Colorado communities, a majority of which are disproportionately impacted by pollution.”
Under the settlement, DCP has agreed to strengthen leak-detection-and-repair practices at the Greeley, Kersey/Mewbourne, Platteville, Roggen, Spindle, O’Connor and Lucerne natural gas processing plants, as well as the to-be-constructed Bighorn natural gas processing plant.
Improvements will include installation of equipment that leaks less pollution to the atmosphere, reviewing compliance with leak-detection-and repair requirements and faster repair of leaking equipment.
Additionally, DCP will improve staff training for leak detection and repair at its facilities, and will use optical gas imaging technology to improve visual detection of leaks.
DCP will also install additional pollution-reduction measures at its Kersey/Mewbourne natural-gas processing plant that are intended to mitigate harm caused by past emissions, a project estimated to cost $1.15 million. The project is expected to reduce VOC emissions by 26 tons per year and methane emissions by 375 tons per year.The consent decree is available for public viewing at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/press-room.