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EPA Reaches Agreement with New Mexico Refiner

Release Date: 8/3/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) today announced a settlement agreement regarding alleged violations at two Giant Industries facilities in northwestern New Mexico: the Bloomfield Refinery in Bloomfield and the Ciniza Refinery near Gallup.  Giant will pay a $250,000 penalty and spend $600,000 on four approved supplemental environmental projects expected to reduce harmful air emissions by almost 3,000 tons per year.  

     "This settlement reflects the continued federal and state commitment to bring cleaner air to residents of New Mexico," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "Working with our state partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue actions like this one that enforce environmental laws and seek improvements that benefit everyone."
 
     "What NMED tries to do, above all else, is protect New Mexicans from pollution," said NMED Secretary Ron Curry.  "This agreement will protect our health by significantly lowering emissions limits and keeping pollution out of the air."

     Giant will meet injunctive relief requirements consistent with the EPA petroleum refinery initiative's Clean Air Act priorities.  Giant will cut emissions significantly from the units with the largest emissions by using innovative technologies, upgrading leak detection and repair practices, implementing programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases, and adopting strategies to ensure the proper handling of benzene wastewater at both refineries.  

     When fully implemented, these measures are anticipated to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by more than 545 tons, sulfur dioxide by more than 1,570 tons, particulate matter by more than 60 tons, carbon monoxide by more than 760 tons, and fugitive volatile organic compounds by more than 35 tons. These air pollutants can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate asthma.

     The first project, approved by EPA, will be a collaboration with communities in McKinley and  San Juan counties and local health care providers.  A public health program will be developed to address the communities' health concerns in low income and minority areas.  

     A second project, also approved by EPA, will be designed to reduce idling time in Giant's crude oil truck fleet.  Giant will install lower emission auxiliary coolant heaters and circulate coolant with an electric motor.  

     In its third project, approved by NMED, Giant will retain an independent consultant to conduct an analysis and prepare a report regarding the cumulative impact of industrial air pollution in the Four Corners region at Mesa Verde National Park, Bandelier National Monument, Weminuche Wilderness, and San Pedro Park Wilderness.  The report will help the regulatory agencies determine if additional Clean Air Act programs should apply to the area.

     The NMED approved the fourth project, in which Giant will purchase, install and operate an air quality monitor, along with related equipment and infrastructure, to measure air pollutants of concern and meteorological conditions on lands owned by the Pueblo of Zuni. Giant will provide this data to the community and regulators.

     The settlements are part of EPA's national effort to reduce air emissions from refineries, which has brought more than 65 percent of domestic refining capacity into pollution reduction agreements.  This settlement brings the number of facility settlements reached with refiners under the initiative to 16.  The agreements provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing environmental problems across the country.

     A copy of the agreement is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/pdf/giant0805.pdf.  More information on the petroleum refinery initiative is available at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/oil/index.html.  For an audio clip associated with this announcement, go to http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6xa/radio.htm.

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