abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 27 Apr 2012 11:05

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DECEMBER 22, 2000

The Justice Department and the EPA today announced an environmental settlement with Koch Petroleum Group that is expected to reduce air emissions from three petroleum refineries in Minnesota and Texas by at least 5,200 tons.

Under the agreement filed today in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Koch will spend an estimated $80 million to install up-to-date pollution-control equipment at two refineries in Corpus Christi, Tex. and one near St. Paul, Minn., reducing emissions from stacks, leaking valves, wastewater vents and flares. Koch also will pay a $4.5 million penalty to settle Clean Air Act violations and other environmental claims at its Minnesota refinery. The State of Minnesota has joined in the settlement with the United States.

AThis 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 the Justice Department. AI hope other refineries will take note.@
The air pollutants addressed by today=s agreement can cause serious respiratory problems, exacerbate cases of childhood 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.

"Thousands of tons of air pollutants will be eliminated as a result of this agreement," said Steve A. 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 known 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."

The civil action announced today is distinct from the Justice Department=s ongoing criminal prosecution against Koch Petroleum Group for alleged illegal activity at the company=s refinery in Corpus Christi, Tex. An indictment returned against Koch Petroleum in September 2000 charges that the company conspired to violate the Clean Air Act at the refinery in 1995 and 1996. The civil settlement filed today calls for actions that will be undertaken by Koch over the next 8 years, beginning immediately.

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