By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) officials and an Escambia County, Alabama-based oil and natural gas production company are in the process of agreeing on a $160,000 fine after the company was initially charged with more than 1,700 violations of state air quality standards.
According to a proposed Special Order by Consent issued by ADEM to Escambia Operating Company, the financial levy agreement resulted from a reported 1,735 separate violations — in the first four months of 2022 — of sulfur dioxide emission standards from the company’s Big Escambia Creek processing facility on Sardis Church Road.
A consent order is a negotiated settlement made “in the spirit of cooperation and the desire to resolve a matter amicably, without incurring the unwarranted expense of litigation,” according to several online sources.
According to the order, ADEM is holding Escambia Operating, a subsidiary of Houston, Texas-based Grizzly Operating Company LLC, liable for 83 of the violations. Due to state law limiting the number of continuous violations for which a violator may be cited, ADEM was forced to “compromise” the amount of the proposed levy to meet state law requirements.
The company’s Flomaton / Fanny Church Plant is a sour natural gas production facility that collects full well streams consisting of condensate (a mixture of light, liquid hydrocarbons similar to very light crude oil), sour natural gas, and produced water from the Fanny Church Oil Field, located about six miles south of the facility.
The sour gas stream is not processed at the Flomaton plant but is compressed and transported by pipeline for processing at the Big Escambia Creek facility.
Sulfur dioxide is formed when a fuel containing sulfur is burned. According to several online sources, sulfur dioxide irritates the skin and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. High concentrations of the gas can cause inflammation and irritation of the respiratory system.
Despite the possible health hazards, ADEM states in its order that, “the Department is not aware of any irreparable harm to the environment resulting from the violations.”
Anyone wishing to submit a comment on the matter, or to request a hearing, may do so within 30 days of the notice’s August 10 publication date by contacting Ronald W. Gore, Chief; ADEM Air Division; P.O. Box 301463; Montgomery, Alabama 36130-1463.
A copy of the proposed order is available on the ADEM web page at adem.alabama.gov/compInfo/adminOrders.cnt, or a copy may be obtained by written request to the above address. (A nominal fee for copying may be charged.)