Hess Oil settles with EPA

Michael P. Tremoglie Apr. 26, 2012, 7:00am


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday a settlement with Hess Corporation in which Hess will make about $45 million in pollution control upgrades at its Port Reading oil refinery near Woodbridge, N.J.

The settlement was announced in a communique by the Department of Environmental Protection for the state of New Jersey. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said that this arrangement will dramatically reducing polluting emissions and leading to a marked improvement in air quality for the region,

"The (Gov. Chris) Christie Administration has been aggressively targeting in-state and out-of-state sources of air pollution to improve the quality of life for residents of our state," he said. "This settlement is another win for improved air quality for our residents."

Hess will pay an $850,000 civil penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations at the refinery as part of the settlement with the federal U.S. Department of Justice and the DEP.

The company will also commit to more closely monitoring its operation, improve emissions leak detection and repair practices, and to develop stricter emissions limits.

According to the announcement, these actions should result in reduced emissions of particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, benzene waste gases, volatile organic compounds, and flaring of acid gases. Once the emissions controls are fully implemented, the EPA estimates emissions of nitrogen oxide will be cut by 181 tons per year.

Hess' Port Reading is the smallest operating refinery in New Jersey. It is also the last one in the state to agree to make emissions technology improvements. All other refineries have upgraded their emissions controls. The facility produces about 70,000 barrels per day of gasoline from refined crude oil.

The settlement is part of the EPA's decade-old Refinery Initiative.

"This is an important outcome for the quality of life of New Jersey residents," New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. "We are committed to working with the Department of Environmental Protection to enforce the State's pollution control and other environmental laws, and to safeguard the health and well-being of New Jersey residents."

The consent decree, lodged together with a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

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