The owners of a refinery in an Indiana town on the Ohio River have agreed to spend millions to clean up air pollution at the facility.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Countrymark Refining and Logistics LLC has agreed to pay a $167,000 civil penalty, perform environmental projects totaling more than $180,000 and spend $18 million on new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its refinery in Mount Vernon, Ind., west of Evansville.
The agreement with CountryMark comes 11 months after the announcement by the EPA of an agreement with Marathon Petroleum to take additional steps to further reduce emissions at the Robinson refinery and the company's five other U.S. refineries.
Once fully implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement will reduce emissions of harmful air pollution by an estimated 1,000 tons or more per year. The EPA said the emission can cause respiratory problems such as asthma and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze.
"Under the settlement, CountryMark will implement new practices and install innovative, cutting-edge pollution controls at its Indiana refinery," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These innovative controls include ensuring that pollution control devices, such as flares, are operated properly to minimize pollution emitted into the air and to improve their overall efficiency."
The complaint alleges that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The CAA requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant net emissions increase of any pollutant. The complaint also alleges CAA violations related to flare operation, the New Source Performance Standards, and applicable requirements for leak detection and repair.
The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits and aggressive LDAR practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and processing units. The settlement also requires new controls on the refinery's flaring devices, which are used to burn-off waste gases. The flares requirements are part of EPA's national effort to reduce emissions from flares at refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants.
The settlement with CountryMark is the 32nd under the EPA initiative.
With this settlement, 109 refineries operating in 32 states and territories - more than 90 percent of the total refining capacity in the United States - are under judicially enforceable agreements to significantly reduce emissions of pollutants. As a result of the settlement agreements, refiners have agreed to invest more than $6 billion in new pollution controls designed to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other
The State of Indiana actively participated in the settlement with CountryMark and has received more than $110,000 to fund a supplemental environmental project to remove asbestos-containing material from an old grain elevator in downtown Mount Vernon
The consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.
In its agreement with the EPA last year, Marathon agreed to install state-of-the-art flare controls and to a cap on the volume of waste gas it will send to its flares. The project was expected to reduce harmful air pollution by about 5,400 tons per year and result in future cost savings for the company.
In the three years prior to that, Marathon had installed equipment to improve the combustion efficiency of its flares at a cost of about $45 million. Marathon also installed equipment that saved it about $5 million per year through reduced steam usage and product recovery.
From 2008 to the end of 2011, the controls Marathon installed at its six refineries eliminated about 4,720 tons per year of volatile organic compounds and 110 tons per year of hazardous air pollutants from the air. An additional 530 tons per year of VOCs and 30 tons per year of HAPs were projected to be eliminated in the future.