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Marathon fined $460K, implementing new practices at refineries

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Apr 10, 2012

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Marathon Petroleum Corporation has been fined $460,000 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company must also take actions as part of a consent decree announced Thursday. Marathon will install controls on combustion devices known as flares and a cap on the volume of waste gas it will send to its flares at all six of the company's petroleum refineries.

"Today's agreement will result in cleaner air for communities across the South and Midwest," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"By working with EPA, Marathon helped advance new approaches that reduce air pollution and improve efficiency at its refineries and provide the U.S. with new knowledge to bring similar improvements in air quality to other communities across the nation."

According to the complaint, Marathon violated the Clean Air Act requirements of excess emissions of volatile organic compounds and various hazardous air pollutants including benzene. The complaint allegations included violations of:

· New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Minor New Source Review, 40 C.F.R. Parts 51 and 52;

· New Source Performance Standards, 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts A, J, VV, VVa, GGG, and GGGa;

· National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants;

· Title V and the Title V permits at MPC's Refineries; and

· State Implementation Plan requirements

According to the EPA, the consent decree states Marathon must:

· Submit and implement a waste gas minimization plan, which is a very detailed led plan for reducing waste gas to flares;

· Update the enforceable plan on a yearly basis;

· Undertake a root cause analysis and implement corrective action for "Reportable Flaring Incidents" (i.e., greater than 500 lb/day SO2 or 500,000 standard cubic feet per day waste gas flow);

· Take limits on flaring, i.e., flaring caps; and

· 30-day rolling average limit for individual flares;

"This agreement is a great victory for the environment and will result in cleaner and healthier air for the benefit of communities across the country in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas," said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.

"By spurring corporate ingenuity, this settlement will dramatically reduce emissions from all 22 flares at Marathon's six refineries."

The EPA is engaged in a campaign to reduce air pollution from refinery, petrochemical and chemical flares. A flare is a mechanical device, ordinarily elevated high off the ground, used to combust waste gases. It wants companies to flare less, and when they do flare, to fully combust the harmful chemicals found in the waste gas.

According to the EPA, Marathon indicated that the installed equipment saved it approximately $5 million per year through reduced steam usage and product recovery. Marathon also projects additional savings through the operation of the equipment to be installed in the future.

Marathon is also required to implement a project at its Detroit facility at an estimated cost of $2.2 million. Controls Marathon will be installed on numerous sludge handling tanks and equipment.

Marathon's six refineries are located in: Robinson, Ill.; Catlettsburg, Ky.; Garyville, La.; Detroit; Canton, Ohio; and Texas City, Texas. Together, the refineries have a capacity of more than 1.15 million barrels per day.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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