2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

An EPA inspection of a company’s oil and wastewater tanks led to enforcement. According to the news release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announcing settlement of the enforcement case, the inspection showed unauthorized volatile organic compound emissions “from pressurized gases venting through imperfectly sealed access hatches on top of the storage vessels, pressure relief devices and combustors.”

Multi-Million Dollar Settlement
In the settlement, the company agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty. The company also agreed to implement a program that will achieve compliance and result in additional emission reductions “to offset the effects of the company’s past violations.” EPA estimates the program will cost $1.5 million.

Design Improvements and Equipment Upgrades
As part of the program, the company will “review the current design of each storage vessel system and then make necessary design improvements to ensure that vapors will not be released into the environment during operation.” To achieve the reductions to offset past violations, the company will upgrade its thief hatches, retrofit its pneumatic controllers, and replace natural gas-driven engines with electric motors at five facilities.

The settlement agreement is in a proposed consent decree and subject to a thirty-day comment period. To see the news release, which has a link to access the proposed consent decree https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/utica-resource-operating-agrees-pay-1-million-penalty-and-mitigate-past-excess-air-pollution