Shell chemical companies settle emissions cases

Shell Chemical LP and Shell Chemical Yabucoa Inc. in Puerto Rico agreed to install pollution-reduction equipment at an estimated cost of $6 million as part of two comprehensive Clean Air Act settlements, federal regulators said.

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Mar. 31 -- Shell Chemical LP and Shell Chemical Yabucoa Inc. in Puerto Rico agreed to install pollution-reduction equipment at an estimated cost of $6 million as part of two comprehensive Clean Air Act settlements, federal regulators said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice on Mar. 31 jointly announced the Shell companies also will pay a combined $3.3 million civil penalty to the US, Alabama, and Louisiana, and $200,000 to Louisiana organizations for environmental education and emergency operations.

Shell Chemical will apply new air pollution control technologies and implement emissions-reduction measures to units within its 80,000-b/d Saraland, Ala., refinery and its 55,000-b/d St. Rose, La., refinery.
For reasons independent of the settlement, Shell Chemical Yabucoa shut down its refining operations in Puerto Rico in the summer of 2009. The company still operates a gasoline terminal there, EPA said.

In addition, the two refineries in Alabama and Louisiana, and the terminal operations in Puerto Rico will upgrade their leak-detection and repair practices to reduce harmful emissions from pumps and valves.

The refineries also will implement programs to minimize the number and severity of flaring events and adopt new strategies for ensuring continued compliance with federal benzene waste requirements.

Together, both settlements will reduce air emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other harmful pollutants by more than 1,450 tons/year.

The annual emission reductions from all three refineries, including emissions associated with the shutdown at Yabucoa, are estimated to be 645 tons of SO2 and 813 tons of NOx, as well as additional reductions of volatile organic compounds and benzene.

EPA said the settlements are being pursued as part of its National Petroleum Refinery Initiative. Counting these settlements, 102 refineries operating in 30 states and territories are covered by settlements.

Shell Chemical bought the Yabucoa installation from Sunoco Inc. in January 2002 to produce chemical feedstock for its plants in Norco, La., and Deer Park, Tex., as well as refined products for customers in Puerto Rico.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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