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Sunoco pays $81,000 penalty for environmental reporting violation

Release Date: 06/15/2010
Contact Information: Roy Seneca seneca.roy@epa.gov (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA (June 15, 2010) – Sunoco, Inc. will pay $81,000 in penalties for failing to notify federal and state environmental agencies immediately about an accidental release of benzene into the air in January 2007 from its oil refinery facility in Philadelphia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

According to EPA, on Jan. 28, 2007 Sunoco experienced a non-permitted release of 1,608 pounds of benzene from its facility at 3144 Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia and did not immediately notify the National Response Center, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency or local emergency officials as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. According to EPA, Sunoco also allegedly failed to provide accurate emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms to the local emergency groups for hazardous chemicals stored at the facility. As part of the settlement, Sunoco neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations.

EPA regulations require facilities to notify emergency personnel immediately whenever there is a benzene release of 10 pounds or more. Benzene, a known human carcinogen, is a widely used chemical formed from both natural processes and human activities. Breathing benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and unconsciousness, and long-term benzene exposure can cause anemia, leukemia and possible harmful effects on bone marrow.

A priority of EPA's emergency management program is to eliminate any danger to the public and the environment posed by hazardous substance releases and oil spills. Any person or organization responsible for a release or spill is required to notify the federal government when the amount reaches a federally-determined limit. For more information on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, visit: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/lawsregs/epcraover.htm.