ConocoPhillips settles refinery pollution charges

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 22 -- ConocoPhillips agreed Apr. 8 to pay $1.2 million to settle federal water pollution charges involving a 146,000 b/cd refinery in Borger, Tex., that it operates, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency said.

The company allegedly violated the US Clean Water Act (CWA) more than 2,000 times from 1999 through 2006, the agencies said. In a complaint filed with a consent decree in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, authorities said the case involved two types of pollutants, selenium and whole effluent toxicity.

ConocoPhillips brought the refinery into compliance with its CWA permit limits for both pollutants after federal enforcement actions began, according to DOJ and EPA. They said WRB Refining LLC, the refinery's current owner, also signed the agreement.

The proposed settlement, still subject to final judicial approval, requires ConocoPhillips to monitor surrounding waters, including Dixon Creek and the Canadian River, for selenium levels as well as for the accumulation of selenium in fish tissue.

The company also will maintain controls it put into place to minimize its selenium discharges and to correct whole effluent toxicity violations, DOJ and EPA said. It also agreed to perform a supplementary environmental project, which will cost an estimated $600,000, to reduce the amount of solids discharged into local waterways during storms, they indicated.

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