The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Western Refining Southwest Inc. for failing to adequately monitor benzene discharges and illegally disposing hazardous waste. The company is in noncompliance of a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) filed in August 2009.
“It is important to everyone that companies are following proper protocols needed to protect the environment and public health,” said EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz. “When facilities fail to follow the rules, EPA will act quickly to ensure compliance with the law.”
Western has received two non-compliance letters from the EPA within the past two months. The first letter of non-compliance dated September 24, 2010, was for improper sampling on August 20-22, 2010 and exceeding benzene levels in wastewater on June 24-25 and August 23, 2010.
The second letter dated November 1, 2010, related to similar offenses of improper collection of samples on September 3-7 and improper disposal of hazardous waste on September 30, 2010.
Western has 30 days to pay levied fines after of receiving notification letters.
Western operates a petroleum refinery in Jamestown, N.M., approximately 17 miles east of Gallup. The refinery had multiple violations stemming from its storage and treatment of hazardous waste containing benzene, a human carcinogen present in petroleum.
In 2009, EPA and the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) brought the violations to the attention of Western. Western agreed to pay $734,008, cease all discharges of benzene and close two aeration lagoons that received hazardous waste.
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EPA audio file is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/nov2010.html