The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Total Petrochemicals over the 2007 violations at the Port Arthur refinery. Under the terms of the agreement Total will have to pay a fine of $8.75 million, the agency has announced.
The company was cited for numerous violations of the Clean Air Act between 2007 and 2011, including repeatedly breaching benzene emissions limits. Total also failed to implement corrective measures and prevent more than 70 cases of emitting toxic gases through flaring.
Total is required to pay a penalty of $2.9 million and will have to upgrade its refinery equipment to ensure lower emissions of hazardous air pollution and to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The company must also upgrade leak detection systems and enhance its repair practices, as well as implement programs to minimize flaring.
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According to Total's manager of public affairs Tricia Fuller, the violations were not the result of the company's refusal to comply with regulation but stemmed from a misinterpretation of the EPA's reporting procedures. Fuller stated that corrective action was implemented immediately after the matter was clarified.
The federal regulator also requires Total to reduce its benzene emissions by imposing a lower benzene emissions limit for a further two years. The company will have to hire an independent third party to carry out an audit of its compliance, the EPA said.