Multi-billion dollar natural gas company to pay just $3.25 million for alleged air quality issues

Multi-billion dollar natural gas company to pay just $3.25 million for alleged air quality issues

July 26, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Mewbourne natural gas processing facility in Colorado

DCP will pay out a $3.25 million civil penalty and must overhaul its leak detection and repair practices at eight natural gas plants.

A handful of DCP Midstream LP’s subsidiaries must pay $3.25 million over alleged Clear Air Act violations in Colorado, according to a Justice Department press release. The settlement reached between the company and the EPA, Justice Department, and State of Colorado requires DCP to drastically change how eight of its natural gas processing plants detect leaks and handle repairs. Under the settlement, DCP does not admit to liability, though it’s clear from the EPA’s findings that DCP facilities, located primarily in Weld County, were emitting outright dangerous levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and methane. Once DCP invests its estimated $1.15 million in its Kersey/Mewbourne natural gas processing plant to mitigate prior emissions issues, VOC emissions are expected to drop by 26 tons annually, while methane emissions will drop by 375 tons annually.

VOC exposure can cause nose and throat issues as well as headaches and nausea, while methane exposure can bring even more severe health issues, including long-term issues for the cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological systems. The consent decree published by the Justice Department on Monday shows rampant ground-level ozone issues concerning VOCs and methane that were made worse by DCP’s “thousands of failures to monitor and repair leaking equipment.” This includes using aging, leaky equipment, responding slowly to leaks, and responding inadequately when issues do come to workers’ attention.