Department of Justice Seal



FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2001

(202) 514-2008


TDD (202) 514-1888


Agreement With Petroleum Refiner Will Reduce

Air Pollution in Seven States

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. EPA and the Justice Department today announced an environmental agreement with Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC that is expected to reduce air emissions from seven petroleum refineries by more than 23,000 tons per year. The states of Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as Wayne County, Mich., are joining the settlement, which is part of the EPA's national effort to reduce harmful air pollution released from refineries.

A consent decree filed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit calls for Marathon Ashland to spend an estimated $265 million to install up-to-date pollution control equipment and significantly reduce emissions from stacks, wastewater vents, leaking valves, and flares throughout its refineries. The terms of the agreement provide Marathon Ashland with the operational and design flexibility to continue meeting the public's demand for fuel, and to increase production capacity, as the company complies with clean air rules.

"This settlement will control pollution wherever it originates in the refineries," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "The settlement also is expected to facilitate efficiency upgrades and increased production of gasoline over the next eight years. We are pleased with Marathon Ashland's commitment to work with us to help clean the air and protect human health."

Under the settlement, Marathon Ashland will cut emissions by using innovative technologies, incorporating improved leak detection and repair practices, and making other pollution-control upgrades. The agreement with the Findlay, Ohio-based company will affect refineries located in Robinson, Ill.; Garyville, La.; Texas City, Texas; Catlettsburg, Ky.; Detroit; Canton, Ohio; and St. Paul Park, Minn. These refineries comprise more than five percent of the total refining capacity in the United States.

"This is a victory for the environment," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "I am pleased to be working with the EPA in our fight for cleaner air and water. Enforcing environmental law is a top priority for the Department of Justice, and I look forward to protecting our natural resources and helping ensure that companies are in compliance with the law."

Marathon Ashland also will pay a $3.8 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend about $6.5 million on environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries' pollution. The states of Minnesota and Louisiana will each receive $50,000 of the penalty under the agreement, which also resolves alleged violations of federal hazardous waste laws at the company's refineries in Michigan and Illinois.

The new control technologies and programs to be implemented at Marathon Ashland's refineries will reduce pollutants that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma: nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate emissions, carbon monoxide, benzene and volatile organic compounds. The agreement also should lead to a substantial reduction in the number and severity of flaring incidents and should ensure the refineries' compliance with national emissions standards for benzene waste and with leak detection and repair requirements. The agreement resolves past violations of the Clean Air Act New Source Review requirements, which result when facilities fail to apply for permits and install up-to-date pollution controls when they undertake certain types of modifications.

Also today, the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA reached a separate agreement with Marathon Ashland that will reduce benzene emissions at its refinery in Robinson, Ill. This settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in Benton, Ill., calls for the company to enclose its sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. In addition, Marathon Ashland will pay a $1.67 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend another $125,000 on an emergency response project.

In March 2001, the United States reached similar agreements with Motiva Enterprises, Equilon Enterprises, and Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership, which will reduce air pollution at nine refineries across the country. The Marathon Ashland agreement is the federal government's fourth global settlement with refining companies in 2001. Together, these settlements provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing these environmental problems across the industry, comprising nearly 30 percent of the total U.S. capacity.

Because the petroleum refining companies negotiated in good faith, these settlements have been reached without litigation.