DENVER (KDVR) — The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with a company that owns several Weld County natural gas processing plants, all of which have allegedly been contributing to ground-level ozone pollution in areas that currently fail to meet national air quality standards.

According to the EPA, DCP Operating Company LP and five other subsidiaries of DCP Midstream LP have been ordered to pay $3.25 million in civil penalties for alleged excessive emissions of volatile organic compounds. The EPA said the companies “violated leak detection and repair requirements in federal and state clean air laws.”

“Leaks from equipment like valves, pumps, and connectors are a significant source of harmful air pollutants,” said Todd Kim, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Enforcement actions like this are critical to improving air quality, particularly in places facing air quality challenges like Weld County.” 

The EPA announced the settlement on Monday. The plants involved in the settlement are located within the Denver Metro/North Front Range Ozone Nonattainment Area.

The facilities that are the target of this settlement are the eight natural gas processing plants in Weld County that DCP Operating Company LP and its subsidiaries oversee.

The company has also agreed to corrective action at the facilities. Repairs are expected to cost $1.15 million and will reduce VOC emissions by 26 tons. Methane emissions are also expected to drop by 375 tons annually as a result of these upgrades.

According to the settlement, DCP has to improve leak detection and repair practices at the following processing plants:

  • Greeley
  • Kersey/Mewbourne
  • Platteville
  • Roggen
  • Spindle
  • O’Connor
  • Lucerne
  • The yet-to-be-constructed Bighorn natural gas processing plant

Additionally, the settlement calls for DCP to install equipment that is known to leak less pollution than the equipment the company has been using. Optical gas imaging technology will also be installed since it can help expedite both the locating and fixing of leaks. DCP staff must also be trained in detecting and repairing these kinds of leaks, according to the settlement.

A dry seal compression system will also be installed on two turbines at the Kersey/Mewbourne plant.

“This settlement serves as a model for addressing complex issues through collaboration between our state agencies and federal counterparts like EPA and the Department of Justice,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

Once the United States publishes notice of the consent decree in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to submit comments. The Federal Register will reveal the information on how to submit public comments once the notice has been published.