Murphy settles pollution charges at two US refineries

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 29 -- Murphy Oil USA Inc. agreed to spend $142 million to upgrade pollution control equipment at its two US refineries to settle charges that it violated the federal Clean Air Act, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced.

They said the settlement also requires Murphy to pay a $1.25 million fine and invest another $1.5 million in a supplemental environmental project.

The settlement’s terms are similar to those in consent decrees covering more than 90% of the US refining industry, according to Tom McKinlay, Murphy Oil USA’s senior vice-president, manufacturing.

“After several years of negotiation with EPA and the states of Louisiana and Wisconsin, we are pleased to reach an agreement,” he said in a separate statement. Murphy will invest the $142 million over 9 years, McKinlay noted.

In their announcement, DOJ and EPA said new controls at the refineries will reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 1,400 tons/year once all controls are installed. The settlement also will reduce volatile organic compound, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide emissions at the plants, they said.

Murphy agreed to install covers on two wastewater tanks at the 120,000-b/d Meraux refinery to control volatile organic solvents emissions and reduce odors as a supplemental environmental project, the two federal entities said. The refiner also will install and operate an ambient air monitoring station in the community to address concerns of residents near the plant, and implement noise abatement, dust control, and other measures, they said.

The firm previously settled federal clean air charges at its 34,300 b/d Superior refinery in 2002 after a 10-day trial, DOJ said. The new settlement replaces that agreement.

In July Murphy announced plans to leave the refining business by selling the two US plants as well as one in Milford Haven, Wales, and its entire UK retailing system. It anticipates completing the sale during 2011’s first quarter.

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