US REFINERS Tesoro and Par Hawaii have reached a US$425m settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice to resolve Clean Air Act violations at six refineries.
The settlement relates to alleged leak detection and repair and flaring violations under the Clean Air Act at refineries at Kenai in Alaska, Martinez in California, Kapolei in Hawaii, Mandan in North Dakota, Salt Lake City in Utah and Anacortes in Washington. Tesoro formerly owned the Kapolei refinery but sold it to Par Hawaii’s parent company Par Pacific in 2013. Some refineries also breached national rules on deterioration and emissions, as well as state clean air laws in Alaska and Hawaii.
Tesoro will pay a US$10.45m civil penalty for the violations, of which the US will receive US$8.05m and US$2.4m with be shared between the co-plaintiffs, including the states of Alaska and Hawaii and the Northwest Clean Air Agency.
The two companies must spend US$403m to install state-of-the-art pollution control and flaring reduction equipment at all six refineries. The settlement also requires Tesoro to install the latest pollution monitoring equipment, including infrared gas-imaging cameras at four refineries to locate fugitive volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions that would otherwise go undetected. This measure will supplement Tesoro’s enhanced leak detection and repair programme. Tesoro must also pay for third-party monitoring of its sites to ensure compliance with the detection and repair programme.
Finally, Tesoro must pay US$12m for pollution mitigation projects, including the installation of ultra-low NOX burners on the Salt Lake City refinery and funding the replacement of diesel school buses in Contra Costa County in California with compressed natural gas school buses.
Once the requirements have been implemented, EPA estimates that it will reduce annual emissions by 773 t of SO2, 407 t of nitrogen oxides, 1,140 t of VOCs, 20 t of hydrogen sulphide and the equivalent of 47,034 t of CO2, as well as 27 t of other hazardous air pollutants. Greenhouse gas emissions from flaring specifically should fall by 60%.
'The advanced technologies Tesoro and Par are required to implement are the future for protecting people from toxic air emissions. This settlement puts new enforcement ideas to work that will dramatically cut pollution and protect communities,' said Cynthia Giles, EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance.
In a statement, Par Pacific said that Tesoro would reimburse it for costs relating to the settlement incurred prior to its acquisition of the Hawaii refinery, as well as applicable fines and penalties.
In an emailed statement, a Tesoro spokesperson told The Chemical Engineer that the settlement is 'not an admission that the allegations were true or correct'.
Tesoro's executive vice president for operations, Keith Casey, said that the company is 'pleased to have reached agreement on this consent decree that allows us to fully implement the required procedures and investments to further improve our environmental performance.'
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