Valero settles with EPA on emissions lawsuit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Valero Petroleum Refinery, which has a refinery near Norco, has come to a settlement with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to pay $175,000 as a civil penalty to the state, and reduce vehicle emissions in the St. Charles Parish area.

As part of the Clean Air Act, the settlement was coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department and included 14 of Valero’s refineries in six states.

The company will also spend $200,000 on projects to reduce vehicle emissions in both Krotz Springs and in St. Charles Parish, according to a company press release.

Twelve other Valero refineries throughout California, Colorado, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas are also scheduled to reduce air emissions, as part of the nation-wide settlement.

The air pollutants addressed by the settlement could cause serious respiratory problems and aggravate asthma in children, according to the EPA.

“These agreements are the result of our refineries initiative, which is improving the environment and at the same time, creating a level playing field in the industry,” EPA acting assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said. “Sixty-five percent of our nation’s petroleum refining capacity now has committed to make significant improvements that will benefit everyone.”

The EPA further explained that Valero will upgrade leak detection and repair practices, implement programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from sulphur recovery plants, and adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of benzene waste water at each facility.

Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, where Valero is headquartered, said, “Valero has worked in cooperation with state and federal regulators to reach this settlement. As a result, we avoid a costly trial, save the taxpayers money and secure environmental compliance much more quickly.”

Other major refiners in similar settlements include Motiva Enterprises, Equilon (Shell), Marathon Ashland Petroleum Kock Petroleum, BP Exploration & Oil, Chevron, Citgo, Conoco and ConocoPhillips.