Anticline operators not source of alarming ozone

Charts showing ozone exceedance this year.

Operators on the Pinedale

Anticline Project Area said last week they

checked their facilities for potential emissions

leaks that could have caused the extremely

high ozone exceedances in March.

The 2019 winter ozone season ran long,

with five “ozone outlook” notices, 16 “ozone

action days” and 10 days of exceedances of

the federal eight-hour ozone threshold of 70

parts per billion.

Winter ozone is created when sunlight

cooks emissions of volatile organic compounds

and nitrogen oxides to form a groundlevel

layer of the pollutant, which can cause

and exaggerate respiratory problems.

And although Pinedale Anticline operators

followed ozone contingency plans, reduced

emissions and found only “minimal” emissions

leaks during high ozone levels, no further

information emerged about the potential

pollution sources that peaked in March.

The Pinedale Roundup asked DEQ administrators

if they have investigated other possible

sources such as uncovered ponds at the

Anticline Disposal Facility; no one responded

before press time.

Operators’ reports

The operators’ annual meeting on April

25 took place at the Bureau of Land Management’s

Pinedale Field Office.

Ultra Resources’ environmental and

regulatory manager Kelly Bott of Denver

addressed ozone contingency plans and emissions

reductions. The company is “phasing

out” pneumatic pumps to replace them with

solar power and converting some facilities to

electricity, she said.

Bott also outlined how Ultra and its employees

prepared for the 2018-2019 winter

ozone season.

“Almost all our staffers subscribe to the

(DEQ’s) ozone notification and we really emphasize

(training) in the pre-season. … Ultra

has a policy of no vehicle idling, ever.”

With the DEQ calling 16 ozone action days

in March, Ultra deferred deliveries, fueling

snowplowing and noncritical travel. Exceptionally

high ozone readings in the Boulder

air-quality monitoring station led Ultra to

check possible high sources of NOx and

VOCs.

“We talked with DEQ with some additional

measures,” she said. Ultra checked its

major emissions sources “and we confirmed

our leaks were very minimal during that time

frame. There was nothing anomalous found

with Ultra.”

Charles Prior of Pinedale Energy Partners

Operating related that PEPO also submitted

an ozone contingency plan to DEQ with employees

pre-trained and emission reductions

implemented the days around an official

ozone action day. This year, PEPO deferred

or postponed tank hauling, nonemergency

construction, fueling and deliveries as well

as shutting down ancillary equipment in the

field. The operator also plans to use solar

power for some equipment.

“We also want to have no idling on our

vehicles,” including contractors, Prior said.

PEPO conducts “rigorous leak detection

full-time, all the time.” He said facilities in

the Riverside and Boulder areas were inspected

and “confirmed leaks were minimal.”

Paul Ulrich of Jonah Energy said due to

its small holdings in the Anticline, there was

no activity last year and none is expected this

year.

Jonah uses fluorescent gas-leak detection

cameras and the majority of its operations are

in the Jonah Field. By the end of 2020, at least

nine locations will have emissions controls on

tanks, he said.

Ulrich also described a pilot project to

evaluate consolidating well-site compression.

He described it as tying more wells to a single

central delivery point for less surface disturbance

and lower air emissions.

“We would be reducing the overall footprint,”

Ulrich said. “There are a lot reasons

why consolidating reduces emissions overall.”

He reported Jonah’s use of a large drone

mounted with leak detection cameras is

“looking very, very promising.”

Attainment?

Janet Bellis, BLM’s liaison with DEQ,

presented the Pinedale Field Office’s overview

of 2018 Pinedale Anticline air quality

in respect to the Upper Green River Basin’s

federal “marginal nonattainment” status, assigned

in 2012 after previous ozone standard

exceedances.

She said the Environmental Protection

Agency assigns responsibility for being

ozone compliant to the DEQ. The UGRB’s

nonattainment status came after not meeting

the 2008 ozone threshold of 75 parts per billion.

In 2015, the current ozone standard was

revised to 70 ppb.

DEQ’s Darla Potter, on the phone, went

into more detail, explaining that EPA regulations

for ozone attainment “are very

confusing. It is not simple and it is not

straightforward.”

The DEQ determined the UGRB is in attainment

– but is nowa waiting EPA clarification

about its standards and regulations. “We

have not gone through every step so in fact

we are still ‘nonattainment’ (with the EPA)

for 2008.”

Last year, the EPA divided the UGRB to

appoint Sublette, Sweetwater and Lincoln

counties as in “attainment.”

“That’s why it’s so complicated for

(DEQ),” Potter continued. “We are awaiting

some clarity from the EPA.”

Ozone action days

Potter described high ozone alerts and

actions late in the winter season as “the longest

stretch of ozone action days since we’ve

started the program.”

Boulder posted nine days of 105 ppb while

Daniel reported a maximum of 72 ppb. Pinedale,

Big Piney and Juel Spring showed no

exceedances.

“What’s unique about this winter ozone

season, the majority occurred at the Boulder

monitoring station,” she said. “It was different

than any other station. We did not have

any days (at the others) that were above that

level.

DEQ staff performed quality control because

Boulder levels were high throughout

the day instead of late afternoons. “We’re

very much in the process of looking at all that

information.”

Inspectors visited facilities and did walkthroughs

to verify compliance or look at a

particular area or source.

Carmel Kail asked Potter what will happen

if the Boulder station’s ozone data show

a high average she calculated at 72 ppb.

“The EPA is not explicitly clear on what

happens in a situation such as this,” Potter

said.

Regulations “do not specifically address”

this situation with three counties, she added.

“We are actively exploring this.”

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