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Fresh round of fines OK’d

Profile image for By Lowell Brown and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writers
By Lowell Brown and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writers

State environmental regulators in Austin approved penalties Wednesday against several Denton-area companies, including a settlement against a natural gas operator believed to be the first of its kind in Denton County.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved a $9,000 fine against Williams Production-Gulf Coast Co. LP for operating three unauthorized storage tanks at a natural gas drilling site at Mitchell and Plainview roads near Krum, according to state records. Commissioners waived $1,800 of the fine as part of an agreed order that required the company to install a vapor-recovery unit to capture emissions from a separator and condensate tanks to meet state limits for volatile organic compounds.

"This relates to a site we have near Krum where the TCEQ noted that we have a history of high compliance," Williams spokesman Kelly Swan wrote in an e-mail to the Denton Record-Chronicle. "In this instance, we exceeded a permit limit on our operations. We have since taken corrective action by collecting liquid hydrocarbons, or condensate, in equipment that has a control device to capture emissions."

The order and fine against Williams for air-quality violations is the first against a natural gas operator in Denton County, said Andrea Morrow, a commission spokeswoman. Commissioners approved an agreed order in February fining Aruba Petroleum $35,500 for violating air-quality rules at its operations in Allison, near the Denton-Wise county line.

In all, commissioners approved fines Wednesday totaling $860,718 against 92 entities across the state.


Other fines

During an investigation in September of Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., an industrial waste recycler in east Denton, state inspectors found that a trailer filled with hazardous waste, including polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, was taken to a landfill in Valdosta, Ga. The Georgia facility was not permitted to accept such waste, and the action was considered a major source of pollution, according to state documents.

In the agreed order, which commissioners approved Wednesday, the company denied the allegation but agreed to a $5,000 fine, with $1,000 of the fine deferred in exchange for an expedited settlement.

In addition, TCEQ ordered the company to develop procedures within 30 days that show its waste is properly manifested, transported and disposed of only at authorized facilities. Within 45 days, the company also must show documentation of those procedural changes, including photos, receipts and other records.

Safety-Kleen officials did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

During an August visit to Trinity Turf in Pilot Point, a state inspector noted that the turf grass nursery was using surface water without a permit.

The state environmental commission sent a notice of violation, citing Trinity Turf for failing to obtain authorization prior to storing, impounding, diverting or using state water.

The company did not respond to the initial notice, according to state documents, and a default order was approved, ordering that Trinity Turf pay a $1,000 fine within 30 days and stop using the surface water within 45 days.

According to documents filed with TCEQ on Tuesday, the company hired a new attorney to represent it once officials learned of the default order. But the commissioners denied Wednesday the company's request to remand the default order and continue the case, according to Trinity's attorney, Peter Gregg.

Owner Doug O'Connor said the company was working with the state to determine how to solve the problem.

"We're making every effort to comply and do what they want," O'Connor said.

Commissioners also approved a default order fining Roanoke-based Aero Valley Water Service $4,676 for 12 violations related to a public water system at Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke. Company owner Shawn Horvath did not return a phone message seeking comment.

A field citation fining Justin resident Alvin Grace $210 for failing to obtain either a license or a registration for an on-site sewage facility also was approved by the commissioners. Grace could not be reached for comment.

LOWELL BROWN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is .

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is .