WASINGTON, DC, Oct. 12 -- ExxonMobil Corp. has agreed to install new equipment and processes costing an estimated $571 million at its seven US refineries under a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice.
The two federal agencies expect the comprehensive Clean Air Act (CAA) agreement, which involves plants in five states, to reduce harmful air emissions by more than 53,000 tons/year.
It was the 17th settlement in an EPA-DOJ initiative to work with US refineries on compliance with CAA provisions involving New Source Review and prevention of significant deterioration, new source performance standards, leak detection and repair requirements, and benzene national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants. The settlements now cover nearly 77% of US refining capacity.
"That will lead to reductions of more than 315,000 tons of pollutants annually from the 17 refining companies that have agreed to come into compliance," said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's enforcement and compliance assurance office.
The agencies said the agreement with ExxonMobil would reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide by nearly 11,000 tons/year and of sulfur dioxide by more than 42,000 tons/year.
ExxonMobil also agreed to upgrade its leak detection and repair practices, minimize flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from its sulfur recovery plants, and adopt strategies to ensure that hazardous benzene wastes are properly handled at each refinery.
The settlement covers refineries at Baton Rouge, La.; Baytown and Beaumont, Tex.; Billings, Mont.; Chalmette, La.; Joliet, Ill.; and Torrance, Calif.
Chalmette Refining LLC, a joint venture of ExxonMobil and Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), owns the Chalmette installation. Because it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina and is temporarily out of operation, the plant received a more flexible compliance timetable under the settlement.
Three states—Illinois, Louisiana, and Montana—joined in the agreement, under which ExxonMobil will pay $8.7 million in civil penalties (which the states will share) and spend $9.7 million on supplemental environmental projects in communities around the refineries.
The agreement is covered by two proposed consent decrees, which were filed Oct. 11 in federal courts in Chicago and Lafayette, La., with a 30-day public comment period.
Contact Nick Snow at [email protected].