The United States today announced that Utica Resource Operating LLC (URO) has agreed to a settlement resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at URO’s oil and gas production well facilities in Ohio . The settlement addresses URO’s failure to capture and control air emissions from storage tanks and to comply with associated inspection, record keeping and reporting requirements.
Under the terms of the settlement, URO will complete a $1.5 million suite of injunctions at 15 well pad facilities to comply with the Clean Air Act and facility operating permits; implement mitigation measures at numerous URO-owned wells and pay a $1 million fine. The injunction includes a multi-step compliance program to review the current design of each storage tank system and then make necessary design improvements to ensure that vapors will not be released into the environment during operations.
“This settlement not only requires URO to pay a significant civil penalty, it also requires pollution reductions to offset the effects of the company’s past violations,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environmental Division. and Natural Resources Department of Justice. “These mitigation measures will reduce emissions of harmful volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases into the environment.”
“Utica Resource Operating’s failure to control emissions from its facilities in Guernsey, Morgan and Washington counties has put our fellow citizens at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. . “Today’s settlement, which includes a significant fine, will compel URO to comply with the Clean Air Act and further reinforce the Department of Justice’s commitment to take aggressive action to protect the citizens of this country. We will continue to hold entities that violate the nation’s environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, accountable for their actions. My office is committed to keeping our citizens safe.
“The uncontrolled air emissions from these well facilities were creating poor air quality for Ohio residents,” said Larry Starfield, acting deputy administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. of the EPA. “Today’s agreement not only requires the company to resolve its outstanding pollution violations, but also to take steps to control its methane and carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to significantly to climate change.”
The settlement also requires URO to invest approximately $1.5 million in equipment upgrades and upgrades. These mitigation measures will further reduce pollution at URO well platforms to offset past excess emissions from URO violations. In total, the improvements will result in estimated annual reductions of 307 tonnes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 940 tonnes of methane and 4,429 tonnes of carbon dioxide. VOCs include a variety of chemicals that can have adverse health effects, while methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
The EPA found widespread problems with uncontrolled VOC emissions from oil and wastewater storage tanks during inspections of 11 URO well facilities in 2019. These emissions came from pressurized gases vented through vent traps. imperfectly sealed access above storage tanks, pressure relief devices and combustion chambers. After learning of other inspection, record keeping, and reporting violations, the EPA issued a notice and finding of violation to the URO on August 14, 2020.
The terms of the settlement are included in a proposed consent decree that the Department of Justice filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. It is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.