“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 noncompliance letters from the EPA within the past 2 months. The first letter of noncompliance, dated Sept. 24, was for improper sampling on Aug. 20-22 and exceeding benzene levels in wastewater on June 24-25 and Aug. 23.
The second letter, dated Nov. 1, related to similar offenses of improper collection of samples on Sept. 3-7 and improper disposal of hazardous waste on Sept. 30.
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.