The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department on September 28 announced that Murphy Oil USA has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act at its petroleum refineries in Meraux, La., and Superior, Wis. As part of the settlement, the company will spend more than $142 million to install new and upgraded pollution reduction equipment at the refineries and also spend an additional $1.5 million on a supplemental environmental project.
“EPA is committed to reducing toxic air pollution from sources that have an impact on the health of communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement, which is the result of cooperative efforts by state and federal officials in both states, is good news for the residents of communities living near these refineries, who will be able to breathe easier knowing that the air in their communities will be cleaner.”
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our nation’s environmental laws,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Environment and Natural Resource Division Assistant Attorney General. “Nationwide, many refineries are located in economically distressed or disadvantaged communities. Settlements like this one, that require the installation of pollution reduction equipment, result in cleaner, safer environments for affected communities.”
The new air pollution control technologies and other measures to be implemented at both refineries will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by nearly 1,400 tons per year once all controls are installed. The settlement will also reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter and carbon monoxide. These pollutants can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma, among other adverse health effects.
In addition to the new pollution controls at both refineries, as a supplemental environmental project, Murphy will install covers on two wastewater tanks at the Meraux refinery to reduce odors and control VOC emissions. Murphy will also install and operate an ambient air monitoring station in the community adjacent to the Meraux refinery, as well as other community-based projects to track emissions.
Murphy had previously entered into a settlement at its Superior, Wis., refinery in 2002, after a 10-day trial in which the company was found to have violated requirements of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program, among other Clean Air Act requirements. Today's settlement will replace the existing 2002 settlement.
The settlement is the latest in a series of global multi-issue, multi-facility settlements being pursued by EPA in the refining sector. In March of this year, similar settlements were reached with Shell refineries located in Alabama, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. With the September 28 settlement, 104 refineries operating in 31 states and territories are now covered by global settlements, representing more than 90 percent of the nation’s refining capacity. The first of EPA’s comprehensive refinery settlements was reached in 2000.
The states of Wisconsin and Louisiana actively participated in the settlement with Murphy, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
More information on the settlement: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/murphyoil.html
More information on EPA’s Petroleum Refinery Initiative: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/oil/