DEQ

Wyoming regulators cite 6 companies for air pollution

2013-06-15T19:00:00Z 2013-06-15T19:32:09Z Wyoming regulators cite 6 companies for air pollutionBy ADAM VOGE Star-Tribune energy reporter Casper Star-Tribune Online

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality recently cited six companies for air pollution concerns, including one firm that requested a permit for a gas production plant three years late.

Other citations were issued for excessive dust emissions, an unpermitted coal screen device and vapors escaping from natural gas field equipment.

Among the violators cited between May 30 and June 5 was Denver-based Mak-J Energy. According to DEQ, the company built a gas production plant in Sweetwater County in 2008, but failed to apply for an air quality permit by the state’s March 2009 deadline.

The agency said in its citation that it received a letter of application in September 2012, three years and six months late.

A representative of Mak-J said Thursday the company believed it had filed the appropriate paperwork in 2009, and that they were attempting to track down the documents. The company had sold off most of its properties in the Cowboy State at the end of 2012, complicating the process.

“Mak-J has always worked hard to be in compliance with all environmental regulations, with documents and so forth,” said Brenda Thompson, controller for the company. “When we received a notice a week ago, we were quite surprised.”

Thompson said the company is trying to “get to the bottom” of what happened, and “make sure everything is handled appropriately.”

At least five other companies joined Mak-J in receiving violation notices in late May or early June.

Among them, PacifiCorp received a notice for a single 2012 day during which it exceeded its pollution limit for dust emissions. DEQ documents show the agency discovered in a routine data review that the company’s Naughton power plant near Kemmerer emitted too much particulate matter in January 2012.

A spokesman for PacifiCorp said Thursday that the company had received the violation notice and planned to consult the DEQ and “work with them on a resolution.”

At least two oil and gas operators active in Wyoming — QEP Resources and BP American Production — were cited for similar violations.

According to DEQ documents, an agency inspector in April noticed vapors venting from a condensate tank on a QEP well site in Sublette County. The vapors were supposed to be routed through a combustion device rather than vented.

A QEP spokeswoman said Thursday that the company was aware of the citation. “We did receive a violation, and are working with DEQ to resolve that,” Lynn Welker said.

The agency made similar allegations against BP America. An investigator visiting a company site in Sweetwater County in May observed vapors escaping through a hatch on a tank, rather than being controlled. The company didn’t return an email seeking comment.

Two other companies were issued notices of violation in late May or early June.

P4 Production, a Monsanto subsidiary based in Idaho, was cited for using an unpermitted coal screen device at a metallurgical coke plant near Rock Springs after a May site visit. GAS Ventures, a Thermopolis company operating in Hot Springs County, was cited for making modifications to a facility without obtaining an air permit first. The company reported the modifications in April.

A Monsanto spokesman said the company had received the notice and planned to meet with DEQ to discuss the issue. GAS Ventures did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Companies are usually given an opportunity to interact with the DEQ after receiving a notice of violation. While the documents aren’t guarantees that a company will be fined, many end up paying a penalty. The DEQ can charge up to $10,000 for each day a company is out of compliance.

The notices sent by the agency are not guarantees that a company will be fined.

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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