Chevron to boost
pollution controls

The $275 million agreement
with the EPA covers its
refinery at Kapolei

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. will upgrade pollution control at its oil refinery in Campbell Industrial Park and four refineries in other states under a $275 million agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

A consent decree filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco requires Chevron to install pollution-control technology at the five refineries, which together represent more than 5 percent of the total refining capacity in the United States.


Chevron's actions are expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides by more than 3,300 tons and sulfur dioxide by nearly 6,300 tons. These air pollutants can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

Chevron also will pay a $3.5 million civil penalty and spend more than $4 million on other air-quality improvement projects in communities around its refineries.

Some $800,000 -- $500,000 from Chevron and $300,000 from the federal government -- will be used to retrofit diesel-engine buses to reduce emissions in Hawaii, said Wilfred Nagamine, chief of the state Department of Health's Clean Air Branch. He said details have not yet been worked out.

In making the settlement, Chevron doesn't admit to violating the federal Clean Air Act at any of the refineries, but does promise to meet specific timelines for stronger pollution control as spelled out in the 152-page consent decree.

"We will meet the requirements in the consent decree," Hawaii Chevron spokesman Albert Chee Jr. said. "The goal is making our systems cleaner without compromising safety or reliability."

Chee couldn't provide an estimate yesterday of the emissions reductions expected at the Campbell Industrial Park refinery, and said it would be against company policy to reveal the expected cost of local improvements.

The 42-year-old plant refines an average of 54,000 barrels of crude oil a day, or about one-third of the oil processed in the state, Chee said.

"The last several years, we've done various types of improvements voluntarily and many of them have gone to reduce the emissions profile for the facility," Chee said.

In 2002, Chevron's Kapolei refinery emitted 1,560 tons of sulfur dioxide and 890 tons of nitrogen oxides, Nagamine said. The sulfur dioxide emissions were 40 tons higher in 2002 than in 1997, Nagamine said. The nitrogen oxides emissions in 2002 were 700 tons lower than five years ago.

Nagamine said the company is in compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards.

Under the agreement, Chevron will:

>> Cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by using new technology.
>> Upgrade its leak detection and repair practices.
>> Implement programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases and reduce emissions from its sulfur-recovery plants.
>> Adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of hazardous benzene wastes.

A plan for enhanced maintenance is due to the EPA by March. Deadlines for improvements range from 2004 to 2011, with fines of $200 to $2,500 a day for missed deadlines.

Yesterday's agreement marks the latest in a series of settlements between the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice with petroleum-refining companies. More than 30 percent of the industry has reached settlements that will ultimately reduce pollutants released into the air by 150,000 tons a year, the EPA said.

"The emissions reductions required by this settlement will lead to cleaner air and significant environmental and public health benefits," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Sansonetti. "We expect to continue our strong enforcement efforts and see to it that other refiners will follow suit by improving environmental controls to reduce harmful emissions."


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