Officials: Deal reached over Kalkaska gas plant pollution

 Officials: Deal reached over Kalkaska gas plant pollution

KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) - Federal officials say they've reached a settlement with a Texas company over alleged clean-air violations at a natural gas processing facility in northern Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday that Merit Energy Co. has agreed to pay an $885,000 civil penalty and improve leak detection and repair work practices at its Kalkaska plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency says volatile organic compounds leaked from equipment such as valves and pumps. The compounds are a component of smog and ground-level ozone, which can be harmful to people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman says Merit Energy will install new equipment, step up monitoring and take other measures to prevent leaks.

The settlement awaits a 30-day comment period and a judge's approval before becoming final.

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