Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hess to pay $850,000 in NJ refinery pollution settlement

**Updated at 2:40 p. m.**

Hess Corporation 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, the Justice Department and the EPA announced today.

In a news release today, the government said that the controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 181 tons per year 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, and are significant contributors to smog. 

“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.

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 units.

The government’s 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.

New Jersey to receive half of the settlement

The state of New Jersey actively participated in the settlement with Hess and will receive half of the civil penalty. 

“The Christie Administration has been aggressively targeting in-state and out-of-state sources of air pollution, to improve the quality of life for residents of our state,’’ said NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “This settlement is another win for improved air quality for our residents.’’

The consent decree, lodged in the District of New Jersey, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.


Hess refinery in New Jersey sued for air violations

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