Oil and gas company agrees to resolve Clean Air Act violations at plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that Western Operating Company has agreed to resolve alleged risk management planning and chemical reporting violations at Wiggins Gas Plant facility.

As a part of the agreement Western Operating Company will pay a $122,900 penalty to settle infringements of the risk management planning requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and hazardous chemical inventory reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

The CAA's risk management planning provisions require that facilities storing chemicals in amounts exceeding regulatory thresholds develop and implement plans that outline emergency protocols and chemical release prevention and minimization.

Western Operating Company's Wiggins Gas Plant processes flammable chemical mixtures over the 10,000 pound maximum, however EPA inspectors found that there was an inadequate implementation of risk management planning. The company did not resolve maintenance problems in a timely manner, failed to provide employees with written operating procedures, and was not conducting regular gas detection tests, the Agency says.

The EPA settlement adds that the Western Operating Company also failed to submit Tier 2 reports, which outline hazardous chemical inventory, to state and local emergency responders.

Suzanne Bohan, EPA's enforcement program director in Denver commended Western Operating Company's work to address deficiencies in their procedures, saying, "Risk management plans and hazardous chemical inventory reporting requirements protect communities by making sure that facilities provide transparent information and have procedures in place to prevent and respond to potential releases of the chemicals they use."

Companies should work with environmental consultants to ensure that they are adhering to all state and federal regulations regarding business processes.