Flint Hills settles Port Arthur pollution case

Flint Hills Resources (FHR) has reached a settlement with the US federal government to implement innovative technologies to control harmful air pollution from industrial flares and leaking equipment at the company’s 635,000-tonne/year (tpy) chemical plant in Port Arthur, Tex.

The agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Justice provides for the installation of state-of-the-art emissions reductions technology and other enhancements at the Port Arthur plant, FHR said.

The company also has agreed to pay a penalty of $350,000 for violations under the Clean Air Act.

Once fully implemented, EPA estimates that the Port Arthur settlement will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), including benzene and other hazardous air pollutants (HAP), by an estimated 1,880 tpy, and will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 69,000 tpy, according to a separate Mar. 20 release from EPA.

In addition to the penalty, FHR will direct $2 million to the city of Port Arthur’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Project to implement and complete the renovation of city-owned diesel-engine vehicles, and $350,000 to the Energy Efficiency Project, known locally as the Lighthouse Project, to reduce the energy demand in low-income residences, the company said.

The agreement settles EPA’s enforcement action against FHR alleging the Port Arthur plant improperly operated its steam-assisted flaring devices in a way that emitted excess amounts of VOC and additionally violated EPA regulations designed to limit emissions from leaking equipment.

FHR said the Port Arthur plant has taken early initiative to complete many of the actions now required as part of the consent decree, including improving the performance of its flares, enhancing its leak detection and repair program, and installing a flare gas recovery system—the first-of-its-kind at a stand-alone US olefins plant.

The company said it expects its investment for the agreed plant enhancements to be about $44.5 million.

FHR’s Port Arthur chemical plant produces about 635,000 tpy of ethylene and 318,000 tpy of propylene.

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