Shell to spend over $115m to settle US Clean Air Act violations

10 July 2013 20:39  [Source: ICIS news]

Shell to spend over $115m to settle US Clean Air Act violations

(Recasts and adds comment from Shell in paragraphs 9-11)

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Shell has agreed to invest more than $115m (€90m) on pollution control and pay $2.6m in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the US Clean Air Act at its Deer Park refinery and chemical plant in Texas, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday.

Under the settlement, Shell will spend $100m on technology to reduce pollution from industrial flares by recovering and recycling waste gases, complying with flare caps, as well as installing instruments and monitoring systems to ensure that gases sent to flares are burning with 98% efficiency.

The pollution controls would reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous air pollutants by 4,550 tonnes/year, as well as emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 260,000 tonnes/year, the federal agencies said.

The global energy and chemicals major also will spend $1m on a system that monitors benzene levels at the complex’s fenceline near a neighbourhood and make data available on a public website.

“This agreement will bring Shell Oil’s refinery and chemical plant in Deer Park into compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act and result in cleaner, healthier air for residents in the local communities for many years to come,” said Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general at the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In addition, Shell will spend $15m-60m to modify its wastewater treatment plant, replace and repair tanks, inspect tanks biweekly for integrity problems that may lead to leaks, as well as implement enhanced monitoring and repair practices at the benzene production unit.

The company also will spend $400,000 on retrofit technology to reduce diesel emissions form government-owned vehicles that operate near the complex.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

“The provisions of the settlement are consistent with Shell Deer Park’s objectives and ongoing activities to reduce emissions at the site and upgrade our flaring infrastructure,” said Kayla Macke, a spokesperson at Shell.

"Shell Deer Park has a record of continuous improvement in environmental performance achieved through significant investment in emission reduction projects and heightened employee attention on preventing operational incidents,” she added.

The company shares the goal of improving air quality, and its top priority is to protect the health and safety of community residents, its workers and the environment as it strives to operate in compliance with all permits and regulations, Macke said.

Shell’s complex in Deer Park includes a 330,000 bbl/day crude oil refinery and an 8,000 tonnes/day chemical plant that produces ethylene, benzene, toluene, xylene, phenol and acetone.

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By: Tracy Dang
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