The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it has settled alleged Clean Air Act violations by American Refining Group Inc. at the Bradford refinery.
According to the EPA release, an administrative consent agreement has been completed, in which ARG has agreed to pay a $350,000 penalty along with $4.5 million in equipment improvements that were completed prior to the final settlement. These improvements will dramatically reduce air emissions from the facility.
ARG President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Giberson said, “We are happy to have recently settled with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a consent agreement and final order, stemming from compliance deviations of several years ago.”
According to ARG officials, the company self-reported its Title V Permit violations in 2016, which were incurred primarily due to operation of its coal-fired boiler and refinery flare systems. Further, commissioning of the plant’s flare-gas-recovery unit (FGRU) occurred beyond the stipulated date.
“We want to re-emphasize that we are a small refiner held to the same regulatory standards as huge refineries processing hundreds of thousands of barrels per day,” Giberson said. “We have to spread capital expenditures and projects out over longer periods of time than those refiners.
“Still, by the time the EPA had issued its notice of noncompliance in 2017 the FGRU was up and running and we had invested more than $12 million in capital projects directly addressing the violations,” Giberson recalled.
At the time the issues were reported, the EPA cited ARG for several violations, including noncompliance with several terms of the refinery’s operating permit that was issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The alleged violations include:
- Failure to install a fuel gas recovery unit within the required compliance period;
- Exceedances of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter (NOx) emission limits;
- Failure to properly operate an emission-reducing flare;
- Failure to comply with equipment leak detection and repair (LDAR) safeguards;
- Failure to comply with performance requirements for petroleum storage vessels;
- Failure to comply with national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for industrial boilers.
This settlement, per the EPA, takes into account ARG’s prior compliance efforts — including the replacement of a coal-fired boiler and an associated fuel gas recovery system. The new boiler — costing an estimated $4.5 million — may reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 567 tons per year and emissions of particulate matter by 9 tons per year.
ARG officials noted that the refinery replaced its only remaining coal boiler with a new, natural gas-fired boiler in January 2017. Meanwhile, the refinery’s FGRU has significantly reduced its flaring frequency and duration.
“The overall effect of these environmental initiatives has greatly improved our air compliance,” Giberson noted. “In fact, we have reduced overall emissions by approximately two-thirds during the last five years as we continue to strengthen our community and environmental stewardship.”
The EPA concluded their release with the note, “As part of the settlement, ARG has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable Clean Air Act requirements.”