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Great Lakes Article:

BP to pay $106K for infractions
Oregon refinery cited for air pollution
By Tom Henry
Toledo Blade

BP Products North America has agreed to pay the state $106,000 to settle four violations of air pollution laws at the company’s refinery on Cedar Point Road in Oregon.

One of the violations requires the company to install a newly designed seal system on a compressor unit before Oct. 31.

The existing seals leak. Records show the refinery has had problems with them for months, resulting in excess releases of airborne chemicals classified by state officials as volatile organic compounds. Efforts to repair the seals have failed, Dina Pierce, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesman, said.

The Ohio EPA will continue to have Toledo’s Department of Environmental Services act as its agent and monitor emissions closely while the plant is upgraded with the new equipment. The agency has reserved the right to issue a shutdown order if the discharges rise to the point of causing "imminent and substantial danger to [human] health and the environment," Ms. Pierce said.

The agency’s enforcement order shows that state environmental regulators are willing to let BP temporarily continue to surpass discharge limits by releasing up to 1.6 tons of volatile organic compound vapors into the atmosphere from November, 2003, through October, 2004. The projected discharge is based on the anticipated performance of existing seals, the Ohio EPA said.

BP spokesman Mary Caprella said the corporation acknowledges its responsibility to keep the refinery’s emissions under control.

Several improvements will be made to help the aging facility operate cleaner in the future, she said.

"We’re comfortable with the settlement," Ms. Caprella said.

Two other violations stem from an incident on Dec. 5, 2002, when a malfunction at a fluidized catalytic cracking unit triggered a chain of events that led to sooty particles falling from the sky and tons of additional sulfur dioxide getting into the atmosphere.

The malfunction caused oily material to enter a boiler. The boiler discharged sooty material into the sky for an hour. Soot fell on nearby snow, homes, cars, and other property, the Ohio EPA said.

In order to correct the problem, BP shut down the malfunctioning unit. But it kept a gas recovery system from removing sulfur from gas streams.

Gas from a coke unit was subsequently routed to a flare for combustion without sulfur being removed, resulting in excessive sulfur dioxide emissions for nearly a month, the Ohio EPA said.

The agency estimated as much as 6.2 tons of sulfur dioxide were emitted from the flare between Dec. 5, 2002, and Jan. 3, 2003. Normally, none would be discharged, the Ohio EPA said

Sulfur dioxide is one of six major classes of air pollution the U.S. EPA regulates.

Sulfur dioxide forms acid rain in the atmosphere, an acidic pollutant that can float for miles.

Great Lakes biologists long have pushed for sulfur dioxide reductions - especially from heavy industrial states such as Ohio - because acid rain imperils forests, waterways, lakes, and fish as its falls from the sky as rain.

Another violation focused on a pair of instances in which BP’s gasoline loading rack was cited for exceeding its daily limit for dispensing aviation fuel without vapor controls. The regulatory threshold is 20,000 gallons a day when there are no such controls.

On Jan. 11, 2002, the refinery loaded 20,760 gallons.

On March 9, 2002, it loaded 25,000 gallons. The Ohio EPA said it might require BP to install a vapor collection system if additional violations occur.

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