WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - An oil production and refining company has agreed to pay a $167,000 civil penalty, perform more than $180,000 in environmental projects and spend $18 million on new pollution controls to settle Clean Air Act violations.
As a result of the settlement pollution controls required by the company, CountryMark Refining and Logistics LLC will reduce emissions of harmful air pollution that can cause problems such as asthma, acid rain, smog, and haze by an estimated 1,000 tons or more per year.
Announced Feb. 28 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice, CountryMark allegedly increased emissions by making modifications to its refinery located in Mount Vernon, Ind., without obtaining a pre-construction permit and installing the required pollution control equipment.
"Because oil production and refining is an important source of jobs in southwest Indiana, my office worked with our state and federal partners to ensure this settlement agreement is carefully structured to address the violations of law and assist the local community with needed improvements to environmental safety and air quality," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office represented the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in settlement negotiations.
The complaint also claims there were CAA violations related to flare operations, the New Source Performance Standards, and applicable requirements for leak detection and repair (LDAR).
In the settlement new and upgraded pollution controls are required as well as more stringent emission limits, and aggressive LDAR practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and processing units.
According to the flair requirements by the EPA's national effort to reduce emissions from flares at refineries, petrochemical, and chemical plants, the settlement will ensure proper combustion efficiency for any gasses that are sent to a flare. There will also be a cap to the total amount of waste gases that can be sent to a flare at the refinery.
Also 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 pollutants by over 360,000 tons per year.
The state of Indiana participated in the settlement with CountryMark and has received over $110,000 to fund a supplemental environmental project to remove asbestos-containing material from an old grain elevator in downtown Mount Vernon.
CountryMark is required by the settlement to provide at least $70,000 in funding for a supplemental environmental project that will install diesel retrofit and/or idle reduction technologies on school busses and/or non-school bus, publicly-owned vehicles located within 50 miles of the refinery.
"Notably, CountryMark will be the third refiner to put in place new measures to substantially reduce gas emissions from its flare, and the company's commitment to retrofit diesel school buses will also reduce air emissions that affect the area's residents." said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.