SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Questar Gas Management Co. polluted the air at five compressor stations on tribal lands in northeastern Utah, the federal government says.
In a 2006 permit application to the Environmental Protection Agency, Questar left out emitting units and implied that emissions controls were in place, though more than four compressor engines operated without controls for months after startup, the suit states.
Questar failed to monitor operation of flares intended to destroy hazardous emissions, and allowed the pilot light on a flare at the Chipita plant to go out more than 22 times since August 2005, allowing uncontrolled emissions, Uncle Sam says.
It also accuses Questar of failing to inspect the closed vent system, which conveys emissions from dehydrators and engines to the flare, to ensure no detectable emissions.
Other violations allegedly include Questar’s failure to notify the EPA of startup dates, to obtain preconstruction approval for new sources, to submit designs for emissions controls, to file for operating permits, to conduct performance testing, to record and report operations data, and to update compliance status and install monitoring systems.
The company may face civil penalties of up to $32,500 per day per violation of the Clean Air Act.
The five facilities – Coyote Wash, Chapita, Island, Wonsits Valley and River Bend – are on the Uncompahgre Reservation on Uinta and Ouray lands, and are part of Questar’s Uinta Basin hub operations.
The facilities, which compress, dehydrate and process natural gas, are considered “major sources” of hazardous air pollutants under the Act, with the potential to emit more than 250 tons per year of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, causing cancer, birth defects and other health problems.