UPDATE: TCEQ now says Pumpco site work not halted. [Original post: Work at Alpine pipeline yard halted; Texas Commission on the Environment investigation to continue

UPDATE ON MAY 14, 4:30 PM

A statement to the Gazette from the Texas Commission on the Environment this afternoon stated: The TCEQ has not shutdown nor granted approval for the operations at this site.  As TCEQ’s investigation into this matter is ongoing, and more information is continuing to be collected and evaluated, the investigator has learned this site involves the transportation of natural gas by pipeline.  Stormwater runoff from construction activities associated with the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas or geothermal resources, including transportation of crude oil or natural gas by pipeline, is not under the authority of the TCEQ.  If discharges of stormwater require authorization under federal NPDES regulations, authority for these discharges must be obtained from the EPA. These circumstances, that TCEQ does not have authority for stormwater discharges for this site and that a TCEQ permit would therefore not be applicable, were discussed with a representative of Pumpco. (Additional information on who regulates oil and gas activities can be found at the following link: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/assistance/sblga/oil-gas/statewide_oilgas_prog_info.pdf)

 

ORIGINAL MAY 13 post: Work at the Pumpco Inc pipeline yard was halted yesterday after the Texas Commission on the Environment ( TCEQ) received complaints that triggered an investigation on-site by the agency. The site is being cleared and will be used as a staging area for the proposed Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

A statement from LisaWheeler of TCEQ to the Gazette states:

The TCEQ El Paso Region Office received six complaints alleging that land was cleared with no storm water controls in place. A TCEQ investigator with the region initiated an investigation of these complaints yesterday.  No information was available on any authorizations that might exist for the site.   As part of standard TCEQ protocols, the investigator prepared an exit interview form to provide to company officials.  The information was read to the workers on-site, since no supervisor was available at the time of the investigation. The exit interview form includes the statement “Did the investigator advise the regulated entity representative that continued operation is not authorized?”.  This item was marked “Yes”. (see attached blank exit interview form)

The workers indicated that they would cease operations at the site. 

Additionally, the investigator attempted to contact the complainants to indicate the initial findings.  He spoke with one complainant and did describe the current situation.  The investigator has since made contact with a Pumpco foreman.

 At this time the investigation is not yet final, however, the TCEQ will take appropriate action in accordance with agency procedures and policies.

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