Federal Air Pollution Settlement to Cost Hunt Refining $49 Million

The Hunt Refining Co. and Hunt Southland Refining Co. have agreed to pay a $400,000 civil penalty and spend more than $48.5 million for new and upgraded pollution controls at three refineries, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and EPA announced on Sept. 28.

The settlement resolves alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and is expected to reduce more than 1,250 tons of harmful emissions annually from the company's refineries in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Sandersville and Lumberton, Miss. Alabama and Mississippi also joined in the consent decree and will share portions of the civil penalty with EPA.

"EPA is committed to enforcing the laws that protect the environment and public health," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Including (this) settlement, refineries across the country have agreed to spend nearly $5 billion in new pollution control technologies and pay $70 million in penalties."

The agreement requires new pollution controls to be installed that will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by approximately 150 tons per year and sulfur dioxide by almost 1,100 tons per year when fully implemented. The new controls also will result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter from each of the refineries. Volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide can contribute to respiratory disorders such as asthma and reduced lung capacity. They also can cause damage to ecosystems and reduce visibility. The three refineries covered by the settlement have the capacity to produce nearly 70,000 barrels of oil per day.

Hunt also will spend $475,000 on projects to benefit the community and environment. Hunt agreed to upgrade controls to reduce volatile organic compound emissions from the wastewater systems at the Tuscaloosa refinery and also will buy emergency preparedness equipment and train mutual aid responders in Vicksburg, Miss., and Choctaw County, Ala.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

Check out the archives of Environmental Protection magazine's Web site for additional articles related to refineries, including: "Premcor Refining Group Reaches $6 Million Settlement for Violations at Refinery."

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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