U.S., CITGO Petroleum Corp. Reach Agreement to Reduce Air Emissions

The Department of Justice and EPA have signed a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement with CITGO that requires the petroleum refiner to spend an estimated $320 million to install and implement state-of-the-art control technologies to reduce emissions at its refineries.

The settlement is expected to reduce harmful air emissions by more than 30,000 tons per year from six petroleum refineries in five states that represent nearly five percent of total refining capacity in the United States.

CITGO's actions under the settlement agreement are expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by more than 7,184 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by more than 23,250 tons. The agreement will also require reductions of volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants at all CITGO refineries.

The air pollutants addressed by the agreement can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma. The states of Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and Georgia are joining the settlement, which is part of EPA's national effort to reduce air emissions from refineries.

The consent decree also requires CITGO to pay a $3.6 million civil penalty and spend more than $5 million on a supplemental environmental project to further reduce NOx and carbon monoxide emissions at its Corpus Christi, Texas refinery. The states joining the settlement will share in the penalties.

"The CITGO settlement is the 12th reached by EPA under its Petroleum Refinery Initiative since December of 2000," said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA acting assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Settlements under EPA's Petroleum Refinery Initiative have reduced emissions of air pollutants by 200,000 tons per year at 48 refineries in 24 states that collectively account for more than 40 percent of domestic refining capacity, providing a comprehensive approach to addressing environmental problems across the industry."

To meet obligations under EPA's New Source Review program, CITGO will cut emissions significantly from its largest emitting units through the use of state-of-the-art technologies. In addition, at each of its refineries, CITGO will implement programs to reduce excess emissions associated with flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from its sulfur recovery plants through the installation of controls to ensure the proper treatment of hazardous benzene wastes and upgrade its leak detection and repair practices. The affected CITGO refineries are located in Lemont, Ill., Lake Charles, La., Corpus Christi, Texas, Paulsboro, N.J. and Savannah, Ga.

"We're one step closer to bringing all of America's oil refineries into compliance with our Clean Air Act standards, which means cleaner air for our communities and citizens," said Tom Sansonetti, Environment and Natural Resource Division assistant attorney general. "Companies that break environmental laws not only endanger public health, but they also harm our precious natural resources."

Over the past 3 years, the United States has reached similar agreements with Chevron, Motiva Enterprises, Equilon (Shell) and Shell Deer Park Refining, Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Koch Petroleum Group, BP Exploration & Oil, Conoco, Costal Eagle Point Oil Co., CHS Inc. (Cenex), Lion Oil, Ergon Refining and Navajo Refining Co.

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