Air Pollution To Be Reduced at Six Refineries

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice have announced a $425 million settlement with subsidiaries of Tesoro Corp., and Par Hawaii Refining that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations and protects public health by reducing air pollution at six refineries.

Under the settlement, the two companies will spend about $403 million to install and operate pollution control equipment, and Tesoro will spend about $12 million to fund environmental projects in local communities previously impacted by pollution. Tesoro will also pay a $10.45 million civil penalty.

Once the companies install the pollution controls required by the settlement, annual emissions reductions at the six refineries will total an estimated 773 tons of sulfur dioxide, 407 tons of nitrogen oxides, 1,140 tons of volatile organic compounds, 27 tons of hazardous air pollutants, 20 tons of hydrogen sulfide and the equivalent of 47,034 tons of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas.  A large number of the emissions reductions will occur in areas with impaired air quality and protect populations at risk for respiratory illnesses.  In particular, this settlement will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flaring at the subject refineries by over 60 percent.

The settlement addresses a range of alleged leak detection and repair and flaring violations under the Clean Air Act at all six refineries as well as violations of the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration, Non-Attainment New Source Review, New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants at certain refineries.  The settlement also addresses various violations of state clean air laws, programs, and permits.

Leaks, flares, and excess emissions from refineries emit hazardous air pollutants, or air toxics, that are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, and seriously impact the environment.  SO2 and NOx have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze.  Refineries also emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as fugitive VOCs.

This settlement is part of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes refineries, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements.  The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from all settlements under this initiative will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.