Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 22, 2023

Contact:

Ryan Maher, Center for Biological Diversity, (781) 325-6303, rmaher@biologicaldiversity.org

Suit Launched to Force EPA to Tackle Toxic Air Pollution From Colorado Fossil Fuel Waste Disposal Plant

PARACHUTE, Colo.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed notice today of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to respond to the Center’s challenge to the methods used to control toxic air pollution at a facility that disposes of liquid waste from fracking and oil and gas production.

The notice comes after the EPA missed the Jan. 22, 2023 deadline to respond to a petition submitted by the Center and Grand Valley Citizens Alliance in November.

In the petition, the groups argued that a new permit held by the Parachute Water Management Facility fails to require the plant to measure and document the effectiveness of flares used to burn off toxic pollution resulting from storage and processing of the fossil fuel waste products.

“We’re talking about a failure to fully control a large source of several dangerous air pollutants that can do serious damage to human health,” said Ryan Maher, an environmental health attorney at the Center. “It’s unacceptable that the EPA is neglecting to respond to real, harmful defects we’ve identified in this facility’s pollution permit.”

The facility, owned by Terra Energy Partners, consists of large ponds where toxic liquids are stored and evaporated, in addition to tanks for storing waste and other processing equipment.

The facility’s permit assumes, without sufficient justification, that flares will destroy 95% of the pollution from the storage tanks. The permit does not require testing of the flares to ensure that they are controlling pollution at the level stipulated in the permit.

The pollutants released by the facility include volatile organic compounds that lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, commonly called smog. Smog pollution is linked to human health problems like asthma attacks, cardiovascular issues and premature death. Those most at risk include older adults, children and people who work outdoors. The harm smog does to plants can damage entire ecosystems and reduce biodiversity.

The facility also emits several other hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, a cancer-causing pollutant that attacks cells in the body and causes a variety of health problems.

Other concerns raised by the Center include the fact that the permit effectively exempts certain types of equipment that are “difficult” to monitor for leaks, without providing for an adequate means of ensuring that such dangerous leaks are identified and repaired.

More information about the Center’s fight against air pollution is available at Protecting Air Quality Under the Clean Air Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

center locations