Air Quality Violations: US Oil Refinery to Pay R7-billion

American oil refining group Tesoro Corp reached a $425-million (nearly R7-billion) settlement on Monday with the Justice Department and the US Environmental Protection Agency to resolve air quality violations.

Under the agreement, Texas-based Tesoro and Par Hawaii Refining will spend about R6-billion of the settlement on installing and operating pollution control equipment at six refineries across the United States.

The Justice Department said the pollution control measures to be put in place at those facilities will reduce emissions, improve air quality and cut the risk of respiratory illnesses for the local populations.

It said the settlement will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flaring at the refineries by over 60 percent.

Tesoro will also spend about R172-million to fund environmental projects in local communities that were impacted by pollution and will pay R150-million in civil penalties, the government said.

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“This settlement will benefit the air quality in communities across the Western United States,” John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, told AFP.

“It uses cutting-edge technology to address global environmental issues like climate change by controlling flaring and provides important reductions of harmful air pollution in communities facing environmental and health challenges.”

Par Hawaii currently operates one of the refineries affected by the settlement and formerly owned by Tesoro.

The company said in a statement that Tesoro is obligated to reimburse it for upgrades to reduce pollution at that facility in Kapolei, Hawaii.

The other refineries covered by the settlement are located in Alaska, California, North Dakota, Utah and the state of Washington.

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