Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE — Another Utah refinery has agreed to pay a penalty to the Environmental Protection Agency and to upgrade emissions controls for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
Big West Oil LLC will pay a $175,000 fine and spend approximately $1.8 million on emissions controls at its North Salt Lake refinery.
The EPA and U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement jointly last week.
Big West, a subsidiary of Flying J, will also invest $253,000 to improve monitoring and management of potential releases of hydrofluoric acid at the refinery.
“This settlement will result in substantial reductions in harmful air pollution and, building on previous settlements with area refineries, marks another step forward in improving the quality of air Utahns breathe in the Salt Lake City area,” said Robert G Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. “Big West will be required to install advanced technology pollution controls that will benefit the health and the environment of its neighbors and future generations.”
The settlement comes on the heels of a $400,000 penalty levied on the Chevron Refinery on Aug. 1, 2013, and a $115,000 fine levied on Holly Refinery on Dec. 20, 2012.
“EPA continues to secure significant settlements with refineries that benefit public health and improve air quality in our communities,” said Shaun McGrath, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver. “Today’s agreement will help bring Big West Oil’s refinery up to date with industry standards to protect the environment.”
“Big West has been working with EPA and the State of Utah for a number of years on ways in which Big West can reduce air emissions at its North Salt Lake refinery,” company spokesman Brett Bailey said in an email.
“We have appreciated EPA’s and the state’s willingness to work with us in finding workable methods for making the desired reductions. The mutually agreed decree entered on Friday will require Big West to spend tens of millions of dollars on pollution control equipment and procedures, and will result in significant reductions in emissions,” he said. “As a company, Big West is committed to responsible environmental stewardship, while providing great jobs for the state of Utah and supplying the fuel that runs our economy and benefits all of its citizens.”
He also noted that in agreeing to the consent decree, the company admitted no liability, a fact noted in the EPA’s announcement.
“We just took the approach that rather than fighting over alleged violations, we should see if we could work with EPA on what they wanted us to improve,” Bailey said.
Under the agreement, Big West will install a state-of-the-art flue gas filter system to control particulate matter emissions and to place ultra-low nitrogen oxide burners on four heaters and boilers. The company will also install a caustic scrubber system at the sulfur recovery plant.
The company will also spend $253,000 on a supplemental environmental project to install a laser detection system around the perimeter of the hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit that is expected to improve the detection and response to releases of potentially hazardous acid.
When fully implemented, the controls and requirements under the agreement will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide by approximately 158 tons per year, nitrogen oxides by approximately 32 tons per year and particulate matter by approximately 36 tons per year, the EPA said. Reductions of volatile and hazardous pollutants, such as benzene are also expected as a result of compliance with leak detection and repair requirements.
The refinery employs 185 people and refines 35,000 barrels of oil daily, according to the company website. It refines crude oil from Utah, Wyoming and Canada, and ships to seven western states.