The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a Clean Air Act settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in which Kinder Morgan Altamont and Colorado Interstate Gas have agreed to pay a $179,099 penalty and improve the maintenance of process equipment that will reduce the risk of an accidental release of hazardous chemicals at natural gas processing facilities in Altamont, Utah and Sinclair, Wyoming.
“Risk management plans protect the public by making sure that facilities collect and share safety information and have measures in place to prevent and respond to any accidental releases of chemicals,” said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Denver. “EPA appreciates Kinder Morgan’s efforts to address these deficiencies.”
The settlement, lodged as a consent decree in the District of Utah, resulted from EPA inspections at the Kinder Morgan Altamont and Colorado Interstate Gas facilities which revealed violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program regulations. The violations included deficiencies associated with safety information, hazard analysis, mechanical integrity, and incident investigations. Under the consent decree, the companies will also have an industry expert conduct mechanical integrity audits at four facilities, submit corrective action plans to EPA, and correct any violations detected in a timely manner.
In addition to the $179,099 penalty, the consent decree requires expenditure of at least $387,500 on an environmental project that requires the companies to install a system flare, not otherwise required by permits or law, at the Rabbit Gulch gas compressor station in Duchesne County, Utah. This flare will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere by an estimated 3.7 tons/year and methane by an estimated 9 tons/year. VOCs can contribute local and regional air quality pollution, including ozone formation. Duchesne County is in an area that has experienced violations of the federal Clean Air Act standard for ozone.
The Kinder Morgan Altamont and Colorado Interstate Gas gas processing facilities are subject to Clean Air Act risk management regulations because they process large quantities of hazardous substances. Section 112(r) of the Act requires facilities holding more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance to develop a risk management program and submit a plan to EPA.
Risk management plans address the proper design and maintenance of equipment such as pipes and vessels, emergency preparedness, and the ability to minimize releases that may occur. They also provide valuable information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. Making these plans available to the public also fosters communication and awareness to improve accident prevention and emergency response practices at the local level.
For more information on the Clean Air Act and risk management requirements: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/risk-management-plan-rmp-rule-overview