TPI Petroleum to fund $13.9 million air, water and land clean-up

TPI Petroleum will spend a total of $13.9 million for air, water, and land pollution alleged to have originated from its Alma refinery in Michigan.


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The total fine is made up of $9.9 million to be paid to two community environmental projects in Alma and St. Louis to clean up local waterways and promote the reuse of contaminated property in downtown Alma.

TPI will also work with the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater resulting from the operations of the Alma refinery.

Under the agreement, TPI will pay a civil penalty of $4 million, one of the largest penalties ever paid in the Midwest for environmental violations at a single facility.

The agreement resolves claims that TPI illegally polluted the air, water, and land until the company closed the refinery in October of 1999.

For one of the community projects, TPI will place $9 million into an account that will be used exclusively to clean up selected areas of the Pine River and Horse Creek, both of which are located in central Michigan. TPI will perform a study to determine the nature and extent of the contamination on these local waterways and will propose how to clean up the areas that are found to be the most polluted. TPI will work with the EPA to develop the specific clean-up plan that will be implemented.

TPI will also carry out a $900,000 ‘brownfield’ project. After assessing the environmental quality of approximately 11 acres (4.4 ha) in downtown Alma, TPI will restore and protect the property in a manner agreed between TPI and the City of Alma. EPA will monitor and approve all proposed activities.

“TPI’s agreement to clean up local waterways and waterfront property should benefit a community that has seen a large share of pollution from historical industrial operations,” said Francis Lyons, Regional Administrator for EPA’s Great Lakes Region. “Together with EPA’s own Superfund clean-up project on the Pine River in St. Louis, this settlement should move the Pine River and Horse Creek closer to what we expect to see in our nation’s waterways.”

TPI was alleged to have discharged volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter in excess of state and federal limitations and TPI’s own air permits.

The complaint also alleged that TPI had polluted Horse Creek and Pine River with wastewater that was toxic to fish and invertebrates. Finally, the complaint alleged that TPI failed to handle, store, and dispose of hazardous wastes properly, and that TPI failed to monitor and report properly on a well that received wastewater from refinery operations.

Under the settlement, TPI and other subsidiaries of its parent company, Ultramar Diamond Shamrock (UDS), must place controls on storage tanks named in the complaint for discharging excess VOCs.

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