Refinery to Pay More Than $5.3 Million Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations

EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement in which Hovensa LLC, owner of the second largest petroleum refinery in the United States, to pay a civil penalty of more than $5.3 million and spend more than $700 million in new pollution controls that will help protect public health and resolve Clean Air Act violations at its St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands refinery.

The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits and aggressive monitoring and leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and process units.

“This settlement will produce significant benefits for the environment and for the people of the Virgin Islands,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The commitments made by Hovensa to install state-of-the-art pollution controls will mean cleaner air for years to come.”

“This important settlement with the second largest refinery in the United States will result in significant improvements to human health and the environment of the United States Virgin Islands,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Because of this settlement, Hovensa will install advanced pollution control and monitoring technology, will adopt more stringent emissions limits, and will also create a fund dedicated to local environmental projects. This is another major step in our efforts, alongside EPA, to bring the petroleum refining sector into compliance with our nation’s environmental laws.”

The government’s complaint alleged that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant.

Once fully implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by more than 5,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by nearly 3,500 tons per year. The settlement will also result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other pollutants that affect air quality. Additional pollution-reducing projects at the refinery’s coking unit under the settlement will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 6,100 tons per year.

Hovensa is one of the 10 largest refineries in the world and has the capacity to refine more than 525,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

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