Sinclair Oil to Improve Pollution Controls

Sinclair Oil Corp. will pay a $2.45-million civil penalty and spend more than $72 million for new and upgraded pollution controls to reduce more than 11 million pounds of harmful emissions annually from the company's three refineries, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced January 16.

The settlement resolves alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company's facilities in Casper and Sinclair, Wyo., and in Tulsa, Okla.

"EPA's vigorous enforcement of environmental laws shows polluters that they need to act responsibly," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Our fellow citizens in Wyoming and Oklahoma will breathe cleaner air thanks to today's settlement."

"The emissions reductions required by this settlement will lead to cleaner air and significant environmental and public health benefits for the communities in Wyoming and Oklahoma," said Ronald J. Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The department remains committed to working with EPA and states to bring industries such as the refining industry into compliance with the nation's environmental laws."

The agreement requires new pollution controls to be installed that will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by approximately 1,100 tons per year and sulfur dioxide by almost 4,600 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 160,000 barrels of oil per day.

In addition, Sinclair will spend $150,000 on supplemental environmental projects in Oklahoma, including $100,000 to install new controls to reduce emissions of particulate matter from the city of Tulsa's fleet of municipal trash trucks.

With the Sinclair agreement, 95 refineries located in 28 states, representing over 86 percent of the nation's refining capacity, are required to install new controls to significantly reduce emissions. The first of EPA's comprehensive refinery settlements was reached in 2000.

The states of Oklahoma and Wyoming have also joined in today's consent decree and will share portions of the civil penalty with EPA.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

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