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Koch To Pay $4.5 Million for Clean Air Violations

Koch Petroleum Group will pay a fine and reduce air emissions from\r\nthree petroleum refineries in Minnesota and Texas by at least 5,200\r\ntons, according to EPA.

Koch Petroleum Group is expected to reduce air emissions from three petroleum refineries in Minnesota and Texas by at least 5,200 tons under an agreement with the Department of Justice and EPA.

Koch will spend an estimated $80 million to install up-to-date pollution control equipment at two refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas, and one near St. Paul, Minn., reducing emissions from stacks, leaking valves, wastewater vents and flares.

Koch will also pay a $4.5 million penalty to settle Clean Air Act violations and other environmental claims at its Minnesota refinery.

"This is the first settlement in a federal enforcement strategy for achieving comprehensive, across-the-board compliance with U.S. refineries," said Lois Schiffer, assistant attorney general for the Environment at DOJ. "I hope other refineries will take note."

The air pollutants addressed by the agreement with Koch have been known to cause serious respiratory problems, aggravate asthma and in the case of toxic air pollutants, can cause cancer and death.

They include toxic air pollutants and smog-causing compounds such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and volatile organic compounds.

"Thousand of tons of air pollution will be eliminated as a result of this agreement," said Steve Herman, assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are committed to ensuring that all Americans breathe healthier, cleaner air and will take the necessary enforcement action to protect public health and the environment."

The agreement will cut nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from the three refineries by 5,200 tons through 2008, through the use of upgraded technologies.

Improved leak detection and repair practices and other pollution-control upgrades will also result in significant reductions in smog-causing volatile organic compounds and benzene, a know carcinogen.

The agreement also includes measures to improve safety for workers and local communities sharply reducing accidental releases of pollutants.

"Koch''s Minnesota refinery has already committed to voluntary reductions," said Karen Studders, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, "but we believe it''s important to have an enforceable agreement that lets everyone know our expectations for further reduction strategies."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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