Merit settles NEPA charges at Michigan gas processing operations

Merit Energy Co. agreed to pay an $885,000 fine and initiate a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program at its Kalkaska, Mich., natural gas processing plant to settle federal charges that it violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced on May 1.

They said the proposed settlement, which was filed May 1 in the Southern Division of US District Court for Western Michigan, imposes the nation’s first enhanced LDAR program at a gas processing plant.

The settlement requires the Dallas independent producer to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new leak prevention efforts, DOJ and EPA said.

They said Merit also will be required to replace valves with new “low emissions” valves or valve packing material to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of volatile organic compounds.

A complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement alleged Merit violated Clean Air Act requirements to monitor and repair leaking equipment and demonstrate compliance with regulations applicable to onshore gas processing plants in 2012.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and the court’s final approval.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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