Marathon Ashland agrees to cut emissions at seven US refineries

The US Environmental Protection Agency Friday reached a deal with Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC that will reduce air emissions from seven refineries by more than 23,000 tons/year. The company must spend $265 million to install updated pollution control equipment, but will be given flexibility of refinery-wide emissions caps.

By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, May 11 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department Friday reached an agreement with Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC that will reduce air emissions from seven refineries by more than 23,000 tons/year.

Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as Wayne County, Mich., also were parties to the consent decree filed in US District Court at Detroit.

It requires Marathon Ashland to spend $265 million to install updated pollution control equipment and significantly reduce emissions from stacks, wastewater vents, leaking valves, and flares.

EPA said to enhance flexibility for producing fuels and to minimize permitting delays -- especially for low sulfur gasoline and diesel projects -- the agreement allows the establishment of refinery-wide emission caps, the first negotiated in a consent decree.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said, "The settlement also is expected to facilitate efficiency upgrades and increased production of gasoline over the next 8 years. We are pleased with Marathon Ashland's commitment to work with us to help clean the air and protect human health."

EPA said total capacity of the seven refineries is 935,000 b/d, or about 5% of the US total.

Capacities and locations of the refineries are: 192,000 b/d at Robinson, Ill.; 232,000 b/d at Garyville, La.; 72,000 b/d at Texas City, Tex.; 222,000 b/d at Catlettsburg, Ky.; 74,000 b/d at Detroit; 73,000 at Canton, Ohio; and 70,000 b/d at St. Paul Park, Minn.

Marathon Ashland also will pay a $3.8 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend $6.5 million on two environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries' pollution. Minnesota and Louisiana each will get $50,000 of the penalty under the agreement, which also resolves alleged violations of federal hazardous waste laws at refineries in those two states.

And under a supplemental environmental project, the company will donate Fordson Island in the Rouge River to Wayne County, Mich.

The control technologies and programs to be implemented at Marathon Ashland's refineries will reduce nitrogen oxides by 8,000 tons/year, sulfur dioxide by 12,800 tons/year, particulate emissions, carbon monoxide, benzene, and volatile organic compounds. It also should reduce flaring and should ensure the refineries' compliance with benzene emissions standards and with leak detection and repair requirements.

The deal resolves allegations the company violated the Clean Air Act New Source Review requirements, which require permits and updates pollution controls certain modifications are made.

A separate consent decree would reduce benzene emissions at the Robinson refinery. The deal, filed in US District Court in Benton, Ill., calls for the company to enclose its sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. The company will pay a $1.67 million civil penalty and spend $125,000 on an emergency response project.

EPA said the Marathon Ashland agreement is the federal government's fourth major settlement with refining companies in 2001. Together, the four refiners have nearly 30% of US capacity.

It added, "Because the petroleum refining companies negotiated in good faith, these settlements have been reached without litigation."

EPA said is negotiating with several other companies with more than 20% of domestic capacity.

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