Refiner Agrees To Curb Pollution
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Koch Petroleum Group will install up to $80 million in pollution-reducing equipment at three refineries in a settlement with the government.
The settlement among Wichita, Kan.-based Koch, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis Friday.
The three had agreed in principle in July. At the same time, the government reached a similar agreement with BP Amoco concerning nine of its refineries.
The agreements are considered voluntary and are intended to allow the refiners to avoid future enforcement actions and years of litigation. The EPA has been taking a sector-by-sector approach to industry pollution problems and recently turned to refineries, said Cristine Romano, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
``I hope other refineries will take note,″ said Lois Schiffer, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for the environment.
The agreement does not affect the Justice Department’s criminal case against Koch. The company was indicted in September on charges of conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act at its Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery in 1995 and 1996.
Under the agreement, Koch will install up-to-date pollution control equipment at two refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas, and one at Rosemount, Minn.
In addition, Koch agreed to pay $4.5 million in fines. Of those, $3.5 million assessed for waste disposal violations has been paid. The remaining $1 million settles alleged Clear Air Act violations. Koch did not admit wrongdoing in paying the fines.
``This agreement addresses the past in a small way and the future in a big way,″ said Jim Mahoney, Koch’s executive vice president of operations. ``It closes some old, disputed issues to the satisfaction of all parties involved and lays out an efficient, flexible path forward to implementing additional clean technologies and best practices at our Minnesota and Texas refineries.″
Federal officials said the agreement will cut nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from the three refineries by 5,200 tons by 2008.
The company also will cut releases of smog-producing organic compounds and benzene, a known carcinogen, through better leak detection and repair practices and will improve safety for workers and local communities by sharply reducing accidental releases of pollutants.
Koch Petroleum Group is a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., a worldwide oil and gas company.
On the Net: Department of Justice site: http://www.usdoj.gov
Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov
Koch Industries Inc.: http://www.kochind.com