The Hunt Refining Co and Hunt Southland Refining Co has also agreed to pay a $400,000 fine after allegedly violating the Clean Air Act.

The US Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the settlement is expected to reduce harmful emissions from the three refineries in Alabama and Mississippi by more than 1,250 tons a year.

The investment will include $475,000 on projects to benefit the local communities and environment.

Refineries across the country have now agreed to spend nearly $5bn in new pollution control technologies and pay $70m in fines since the EPA began a crackdown on petroleum refiners in 1996.

Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said: “EPA is committed to enforcing the laws that protect the environment and public health.”

Ronald Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, added: “This settlement…requires new pollution controls, reduces air pollutants by a significant amount, secures a sizeable civil penalty and obtains important environmental projects for the impacted communities.”

The agreement with Hunt requires new pollution controls to be installed that will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by about 150 tons and sulphur dioxide by almost 1,100 tons, and result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds.

Earlier this year, similar settlements were reached with Valero Energy and Total Petrochemicals which required $270m to be spent on measures to reduce pollutants at refineries in Texas, Tennessee and Ohio.

Kate Martin

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