Hess Corp. has agreed to pay an $850,000 civil penalty and spend more than $45 million in new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Port Reading, N.J., refinery, officials with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
The refinery has a processing capacity of 70,000 bpd, according to media reports.
Once fully implemented, the controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 181 tpy and result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
High concentrations of NOx and VOCs, key pollutants emitted from refineries, can have adverse impacts on human health, including contributing to childhood asthma as well as smog, the EPA said.
This settlement is the 31st such agreement with petroleum refineries across the nation. Hess joins a growing list of corporations who have entered into comprehensive and innovative agreements with the United States that will result in cleaner, healthier air for communities across the nation, said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the Department of Justice.
For example, this agreement will improve air quality for New Jersey residents by requiring Hess to install advanced pollution control and monitoring technology and adopt more stringent emissions limits.
The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits, and aggressive monitoring, leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and processing.
The governments complaint, filed on April 19, 2012, alleged that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment.
The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant.
The state of New Jersey participated in the settlement with Hess and will receive half of the civil penalty.
The settlement with Hess is the 31st under an EPA initiative to improve compliance among petroleum refiners and to reduce significant amounts of air pollution from refineries nationwide through comprehensive, company-wide enforcement settlements, according to the agency.
The first of these settlements was reached in 2000.