The Associated Press
Created: January 15, 2020 06:25 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico environmental officials say special infrared cameras have turned up potential emissions violations by several oil and gas operators.
Footage of emissions documented during the Environment Department’s flyover inspections and images collected by the public are included in the agency’s online interactive methane map. The department said Tuesday it believes some of the videos depict potential violations of existing state permits or regulations.
In response, the department is sending written notices to seven oil and gas operators seeking an explanation and requesting that the issues be corrected. If the operator doesn’t respond in 14 days, state officials say the department may launch an investigation or seek penalties.
Helicopter flyovers were conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September and October. Officials say the infrared cameras identified leaks from flares, tanks and other types of equipment. About 5,340 storage tanks were observed, with 111 emitting methane and other pollutants at the time of the flyover. Of the 530 flares observed, 13 were unlit and emitting methane and other pollutants.
The department is reviewing the footage to determine if facilities were in compliance.
More flyover inspections are planned.
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)