Feds give Utah three years to bring Wasatch Front/Uinta Basin ozone to acceptable levels. - MIRATECH

Feds give Utah three years to bring Wasatch Front/Uinta Basin ozone to acceptable levels.

May 31, 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given Utah three years to reverse a trend of rising ozone pollution in some of its most populated Wasatch Front counties as well as in its more remote Uinta Basin oil & gas region according to a May 2, 2018 Salt Lake Tribune report.

In its April 30, 2018 ozone non-attainment designation, EPA formally declared portions of seven Utah counties to be in violation of national standards for ozone, an airborne pollutant that is particularly harmful to children.

The long-anticipated determination creates “nonattainment areas” spanning Wasatch Front counties: Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as parts of Weber, Tooele, and Utah counties. Uintah and Duchesne counties in Utah’s oil and natural gas rich Uinta Basin were also classified “non-attainment.”

Utah’s decadelong struggle to comply with federal standards for small particulate pollution, which typically accumulates during winter inversions, is well-known. Ozone, however, is a relatively new problem in the Beehive State.

Ozone pollution has increased to concerning levels on the Wasatch Front only in recent years, said Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality. At the same time, the EPA decided to lower the levels of ozone considered acceptable at ground level, where humans might be exposed to it, from 75 parts per million to 70 parts per million — in light of growing evidence that the pollutant is more harmful than previously thought.

The situation in Uintah and Duchesne counties is more difficult, Bird said. Current computer models do not indicate conclusively the area will attain the EPA ozone standard within three years, because the nature of the problem in the Uinta Basin is more complex.

The eastern Utah basin is among few known areas to experience ozone formation in the winter, a phenomenon thought to be linked to emissions from the region’s oil and gas operations.

The Utah Division of Air Quality has sought to crack down on emissions from the industry in the area, Bird said. State regulators require even small oil and gas wells to obtain air-quality permits — even when their operation would not normally require that step elsewhere. Oil and gas operators also must install the best available emission controls to operate within the basin.

What this means to you
EPA has designated seven Utah Wasatch Front and Uinta Basin counties as being in non-attainment for the 2015 70 ppm ozone standard. Utah’s Division of Air Quality says Uinta Basin ozone is largely a winter phenomenon related to oil and gas drilling operations.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for help controlling NOx, VOC and CO emissions in stationary engines used in remote drilling operations.