WASHINGTON - Murphy Oil USA has agreed to spend more than $142 million to install new and upgraded pollution reduction equipment at its two petroleum refineries in Wisconsin and Louisiana as part of a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The settlement also requires Murphy to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty and spend an additional $1.5 million on a supplemental environmental project.
The El Dorado, Ark.-based company’s refineries are located in Superior, Wis., and in Meraux, La. The new air pollution control technologies and other measures to be implemented at both refineries will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by nearly 1,400 tons per year once all controls are installed. The settlement will also reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and carbon monoxide. These pollutants can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma, among other adverse health effects.
In addition to the new pollution controls at both refineries, as a supplemental environmental project Murphy will install covers on two wastewater tanks at the Meraux refinery to control volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, and which will also reduce odors from the tanks. To address additional concerns of citizens living adjacent to the Meraux refinery, Murphy also will be installing and operating an ambient air monitoring station in the community, as well as implementing several other projects, including noise abatement and dust control measures.
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our nation’s environmental laws,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Environment and Natural Resource Division Assistant Attorney General. “Nationwide, many refineries are located in economically distressed or disadvantaged communities. Settlements like this one, that require the installation of pollution reduction equipment, result in cleaner, safer environments for affected communities.”
“EPA is committed to reducing toxic air pollution from sources that have an impact on the health of communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement, which is the result of cooperative efforts by State and Federal officials in both states, is good news for the residents of communities living near these refineries, who will be able to breathe easier knowing that the air in their communities will be cleaner.”
This settlement is the latest in a series of “global” multi-issue, multi-facility settlements being pursued by EPA in the refining sector. In March of this year, similar settlements were reached with Shell refineries located in Alabama, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. With today’s settlement, 104 refineries operating in 31 states and territories are now covered by global settlements, representing more than 90 percent of the nation’s refining capacity. The first of EPA’s comprehensive refinery settlements was reached in 2000.
Murphy had previously entered into a settlement addressing Clean Air Act violations at its Superior refinery in 2002, after a 10-day trial. Today’s settlement will replace the 2002 settlement.
“We’re pleased that this new consent decree will further reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from the Superior Refinery, which was largely the focus of the earlier contested proceedings,” said John W. Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. “This agreement is a win-win for the citizens of Superior and the environment.”
The states of Wisconsin and Louisiana actively participated in and are joining in the settlement with Murphy, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
More information on the settlement: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/murphyoil.html
More information on EPA’s Petroleum Refinery Initiative: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/oil/ .