Williams Refining to pay $2.2 million to settle pollution charges

Williams Refining Co. agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges that it violated Clean Air Act provisions at its Memphis refinery, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced.

Mar 20th, 2007

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 20 -- Williams Refining Co. agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges that it violated Clean Air Act provisions at its Memphis refinery, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced.

The Mar. 14 settlement agreement resolves allegations that the Williams Cos. Inc. subsidiary, which owned and operated the plant from the mid-1980s until its sale to Premcor Refining Group Inc. in March 2003, did not comply with regulations intended to prevent benzene emissions. Valero Energy Corp. acquired Premcor in 2005.

Williams Refining's settlement also resolves allegations that it did not follow leak detection and repair regulations for the refinery's equipment as specified in the CAA. Additionally, the agreement resolves assertions that the company did not properly store hazardous waste, as required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and one violation of the Clean Water Act for an oil pipeline rupture, EPA said.

EPA said it initiated an investigation of the refinery after it became suspicious of Williams Refining's report of less than 10 Mg of benzene emissions based on the plant's size. The CAA requires refineries that discharge more than 10 Mg/year to manage their wastewater in compliance with the Benzene National Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

EPA said that the CAA also requires refinery operators to monitor pumps and valves for leaks, and to report any which are discovered. It said that it discovered more violations during an inspection on Nov. 5 and 6, 2002, and as a result of a Feb. 2, 2002, pipeline rupture.

The complaint and penalty were filed in the Middle District of Tennessee. EPA said that part of the fine will be put into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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