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Refiners agree to settle Clean Air Act violations (2/11)

February 11, 2009
KEYWORDS environment
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Two petroleum refiners have agreed in separate settlements to spend a total of more than $141 million in new air pollution controls at three refineries in Kansas and Wyoming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced in a press statement yesterday. The settlements are expected to reduce harmful emissions by 7,000 tons per year.

Frontier Refining and Frontier El Dorado Refining (Frontier) have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.23 million and spend approximately $127 million in pollution control upgrades for alleged violations at its refineries in Cheyenne, Wyo., and El Dorado, Kan. Wyoming Refining Co. (WRC) has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and spend approximately $14 million in similar upgrades for alleged violations at its Newcastle, Wyo., refinery.

The three refineries are required to install advanced control technologies that, when fully implemented, will reduce annual emissions of sulfur dioxide by approximately 3,775 tons, nitrogen oxide by approximately 2,100 tons and other pollutants by approximately 1,200 tons. The refineries have a combined production capacity of approximately 168,000 barrels per day.

In addition, each refinery will upgrade leak-detection and repair practices to reduce harmful emissions from pumps and valves, implement programs to minimize the number and severity of flaring events and adopt new strategies for ensuring continued compliance with benzene waste requirements under the Clean Air Act. Flaring, the process by which byproduct-gas from the refining process is burned off, can cause respiratory problems and exacerbate asthma.

As part of the settlement, Frontier agreed to implement environmentally beneficial projects valued at more than $1.3 million, including the installation of dome covers on refinery storage tanks to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs are a prime ingredient in the formation of smog.

The settlement requires Frontier to correct deficiencies in the refinery’s risk management program that were identified during a 2006 EPA inspection. These deficiencies included overdue inspections and tests of storage vessels containing toxic and flammable substances.

For more information on the Frontier Refining Clean Air Act settlement, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/frontierrefining.html. For more information on the Wyoming Refining Clean Air Act Settlement, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/wyomingrefining.html.

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