Oil company to reduce air emissions by 23,000 tonnes per year
Faced with the prospect of court action, Marathon Ashland Petroleum has agreed to pay fines and substantially reduce emissions from seven US refineries.
The Ohio-based company agreed to make the cuts in the emissions of seven refineries, which together account for more than 5% of the total refining capacity in the United States, following the possibility of litigation by the US EPA and the Justice Department. A consent decree filed in the US District Court in Detroit calls for Marathon Ashland to spend an estimated $265 million to install up-to-date pollution control equipment and significantly reduce emissions from stacks, wastewater vents, leaking valves, and flares throughout its refineries.
The terms of the agreement provide Marathon Ashland with the operational and design flexibility to continue meeting the public’s demand for fuel, and to increase production capacity, as the company complies with clean air rules. The agreement will affect refineries located in Robinson, Illinois; Garyville, Lousiana; Texas City, Texas; Catlettsburg, Kentucky; Detroit; Canton, Ohio; and St. Paul Park in Minnesota. Marathon Ashland will also pay a $3.8 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend about $6.5 million on environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries’ pollution.
The new control technologies and programs to be implemented at Marathon Ashland’s refineries will reduce pollutants that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma including nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulate emissions, carbon monoxide, benzene and volatile organic compounds. The agreement also should lead to a substantial reduction in the number and severity of flaring incidents and should ensure the refineries’ compliance with national emissions standards for benzene waste and with leak detection and repair requirements.
The Justice Department on behalf of the EPA has also reached a separate agreement with Marathon Ashland that will reduce benzene emissions at its Robinson refinery by enclosing its sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. In addition, Marathon Ashland will pay a $1.67 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend another $125,000 on an emergency response project.
In March, similar accords were reached with Motiva Enterprises, Equilon Enterprises, and Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership, which will reduce air pollution at nine refineries across the country, and this agreement is the fourth settlement with refining companies this year.
“This settlement will control pollution wherever it originates in the refineries,” commented EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “The settlement also is expected to facilitate efficiency upgrades and increased production of gasoline over the next eight years. We are pleased with Marathon Ashland’s commitment to work with us to help clean the air and protect human health.”