Total to pay $2.9 million, upgrade Port Arthur refinery

Total Petrochemicals agreed to pay $2.9 million in fines and upgrade pollution controls at its 240,000 b/d Port Arthur, Tex., refinery to settle federal charges that it violated the CAA, the US DOJ and EPA said.

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, May 2 -- Total Petrochemicals USA Inc. agreed to pay $2.9 million in fines and upgrade pollution controls at its 240,000 b/d Port Arthur, Tex., refinery to settle federal charges that it violated the Clean Air Act, the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency said May 1.

The Total SA subsidiary agreed to make $37 million of changes designed to reduce the plant's sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 800 tons/year, nitrogen oxides by more than 180 tons/year, and carbon monoxide by more than 120 tons/year, the federal agencies said.

Total also agreed to upgrade leak detection and repair practices, to adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of benzene wastewater, and to implement programs to minimize the flaring of hazardous gases.

The settlement is the first for a US refinery to include fixed penalties for the flaring of hydrocarbon gases, according to EPA. Under the agreement, penalties will apply to future flaring at the plant of both acid gas and hydrocarbon gases that contain hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide.

Total also agreed to install a supplemental environmental project in which it will install new infrared cameras to detect equipment leaks, EPA said. Such leaks may contain emissions which contribute to ground-level ozone and smog.

The settlement was filed in federal court for the eastern district of Texas, where it is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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