Sinclair Tulsa Refining Co. to Pay $5.5 Million for Wastewater Violations

On April 4, Sinclair Tulsa Refining Co. and two company managers were sentenced for manipulating wastewater discharges from the Tulsa Refinery into the Arkansas River.

U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan for the Northern District of Oklahoma ordered Sinclair Tulsa Refining Co., a subsidiary of major oil and gasoline producer Sinclair Oil, to pay a $5 million criminal penalty and to make a community service payment of $500,000 to the River Parks Authority. Sinclair also was sentenced to two years of probation.

Harmon Connell and John Kapura, both former managers, were sentenced to serve six months of home detention and three years of probation each for felony violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). In addition, Connell was ordered to pay a $160,000 fine and to serve 100 hours of community service. Kapura was ordered to pay an $80,000 fine and to serve 50 hours of community service.

Sinclair and refinery managers Kapura and Connell previously admitted to knowingly manipulating the refinery processes, wastewater flows and wastewater discharges to result in unrepresentative wastewater samplings during mandatory testing required under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The manipulated samplings were intended to influence analytical testing results reported to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) and EPA.

"Accurate information is essential for EPA to assure compliance with environmental regulations," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. "By falsifying wastewater sampling results, Sinclair undermined our efforts to protect the public and the environment."

According to court records filed on Dec. 13, 2006, between January 2000 and March 2004, the Sinclair refinery discharged an average of 1.1 million gallons of treated wastewater per day into the Arkansas River. Under the CWA, Sinclair was permitted to discharge treated wastewater into the Arkansas River, with certain conditions including scheduled monitoring and required sampling during weekdays.

According to the records, on numerous occasions in 2002 and 2003, Sinclair directed employees to limit wastewater discharges in order to manipulate the result of required bio-testing. During monitoring periods, Sinclair, by way of its employees, reduced flow rates of wastewater discharges to the river, and diverted more heavily contaminated wastewater to holding impoundments, among other means of ensuring that the refinery had passed the tests.

For more information, contact EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at http://www.epa.gov/compliance.

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