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Hess Corporation Clean Air Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - April 19, 2012) Hess Corporation has agreed to pay an $850,000 civil penalty and spend more than $45 million in new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Port Reading, New Jersey refinery, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Once fully implemented, the controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 181 tons per year and result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds. High concentrations of NOx and VOCs, key pollutants emitted from refineries, can have adverse impacts on human health, including contributing to childhood asthma, and are significant contributors to smog.

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Overview of Company and Location of Facility

Hess Corporation (Hess) (known as Amerada Hess Corporation prior to May 8, 2006) is an integrated oil company with headquarters in New York City. The company explores, produces, transports, and refines crude oil as well as natural gas. It also owns over 1,200 filling stations, primarily on the east coast.

The proposed settlement is for the Hess refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey.  The Port Reading refinery processes residual fuel oil and vacuum gas oil primarily for gasoline and heating oil product.  The refinery has a capacity of 65,000 barrels per day.

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The complaint alleges violations of Clean Air Act requirements covering the four main sources of emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and benzene at the Port Reading refinery:

  • New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (NSR/PSD), 40 C.F.R. Part 52
    • Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU)
    • Refinery Heaters and Boilers
  • New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts A & J
    • Flares
    • Sulfur Recovery Units
    • Fuel Gas Combustion Devices (including heaters & boilers)
    • FCCU Catalyst Regenerators
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for benzene wastes, 40 C.F.R. Part 61, Subpart FF
  • Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR), 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subpart GGG

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires the following actions at the Port Reading refinery, at an estimated cost of $45 million.


  • Implement a NOx reduction program at the FCCU and establish enforceable NOx emission limits for the FCCU; under this program, Hess can select one of three emission-reduction options to comply with final NOx emissions limits from the FCCU of 40 ppmvd NOx at 0% oxygen on a 7-day rolling average basis and 20 ppmvd NOx at 0% oxygen on a 365-day rolling average basis.
  • By the date of entry, comply with an initial interim NOx limit at the FCCU of 83.0 ppmvd NOx at 0% oxygen on a 7-day rolling average basis.
  • Perform an Oxygen Optimization Study to determine the oxygen levels at which the FCCU catalyst regenerator can be optimally operated, and conduct an six-month demonstration period during which the regenerator operates at short- and long-term oxygen levels based on the results of the Oxygen Optimization Study.  Hess must propose interim FCCU short-term and long-term NOx limits to EPA, based on the results of the Oxygen Optimization Study and the demonstration period.  EPA will use the demonstration data and other relevant data to establish the final short-term (e.g., 24-hour or 7-day rolling average) and long-term (365-day rolling average) NOx rates for the FCCU.

SO2, PM and CO

  • Accept SO2 emission limits at the FCCU and the Sulfur Recovery Plant (SRP) of 25 ppmvd on a 365-day rolling average basis, and 50 ppmvd on a 7-day rolling average basis.  The limits must be incorporated into permits.
  • By no later than the date of entry, limit PM emissions from the FCCU to 0.5 pound of PM per 1000 pounds of coke burned.  Compliance will be based on the average of three one-hour stack tests.
  • By no later than the date of entry, limit CO emissions from the FCCU to 300 ppmvd on a one-hour block average basis corrected to 0% oxygen.  Hess may accept a CO emission limit of 100 ppmvd on a 365-day rolling average basis corrected to 0% oxygen.

NSPS and Flaring

  • The FCCU Catalyst Regenerator will continue to be an “affected facility” under 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts A and J, for SO2, PM (and opacity) and CO.  Hess will comply with the Alternative Monitoring Plan (AMP) approved by EPA on March 25, 2009, or any subsequent AMP approved by EPA.
  • Implement a program to reduce NOxemissions from two boilers with a heat input greater than 40 mmBTU/hour that share a common stack.  Accept a NOx permit limit of 0.05 lb/mmBTU averaged for Boilers 3 and 4 on a 365-day rolling average basis.
  • Continue to limit SO2 emissions from refinery heaters and boilers by restricting hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in refinery fuel gas and by not burning fuel oil except as permitted under the consent decree.
  • All heaters and boilers at the refinery that are combustion units will be subject to, and must comply with, NSPS Subparts A and J for fuel gas combustion devices.
  • The refinery will not burn fuel oil in any combustion unit.
  • Continue to route emissions from the SRP to the FCCU’s wet gas scrubber, as appropriate.  Submit a summary of the refinery’s plan for enhanced maintenance and operation of its SRP (Preventative Maintenance and Operation Plan, or PMO).
  • During operation of the SRP route all sulfur pit emissions to the Thermox Unit by no later than the first FCCU turnaround that occurs on or after the date of entry.
  • The one flaring device at the Port Reading refinery will be subject to, and be required to comply with, the fuel gas combustion requirements of 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts A and J.  The flaring device must be operated as a fuel gas combustion device and comply with NSPS monitoring requirements using continuous emission monitors (CEMs).
  • Implement a program to investigate the cause of future acid gas flaring incidents, take reasonable steps to correct the conditions that caused or contributed to the incidents, and minimize the flaring of acid gas and sour water stripper gases at the refinery.  Investigate the root cause of acid gas flaring incidents, report on that investigation, and provide an analysis of the measures available to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence from the same root cause.  Take corrective actions to minimize the likelihood of a recurrence of the root cause.
  • Use of the same investigation, reporting, and corrective action procedures for hydrocarbon flaring incidents as those used for acid gas flaring incidents.

Benzene Waste NESHAP

  • Comply with the EPA-preferred “6 BQ” benzene compliance option.
  • Modify “management of change” procedures to ensure that new benzene streams are included in the total annual benzene (TAB) calculation.
  • Conduct laboratory audits.
  • Conduct quarterly sampling and TAB calculation.
  • Provide training for those who sample benzene.

Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program

  • Comply with LDAR requirements refinery-wide.
  • Conduct training (including refresher courses) for refinery personnel with LDAR responsibility.
  • Require LDAR compliance audits.
  • Adopt strict internal leak definitions (500 ppm for valves and 2000 ppm for pumps).
  • For valve leaks above 200 ppm, institute “internal first attempt at repair” procedures.  
  • Conduct more frequent monitoring than required by regulation.
  • Install "low-leaking" valve or valve packing technology in all new applications.

Pollutant Reductions

Once all emissions controls have been installed and implemented, this settlement is estimated to result in the following emissions reductions:

  • 181 tons of NOx per year (tpy)
  • Additional reductions of volatile organic compounds are expected as a result of compliance with the consent decree’s benzene waste management and leak detection and repair requirements.
  • SO2, PM and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions at the refinery are already relatively well-controlled, but under the settlement the refinery is accepting enforceable emission limits for those pollutants.

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Health and Environmental Effects

  • Nitrogen Oxides – Nitrogen oxides can cause ground-level ozone, acid rain, particulate matter, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Nitrogen oxides play a major role, with volatile organic chemicals, in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone.  Children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are susceptible to adverse effects such as damage to lung tissue and reduction in lung function.
  • Sulfur Dioxide – High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs, along with NOx, play a major role in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone, which is the primary constituent of smog.  People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active can be affected when ozone levels are unhealthy. Ground-level ozone exposure is linked to a variety of short-term health problems, including lung irritation and difficulty breathing, as well as long-term problems, such as permanent lung damage from repeated exposure, aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • Benzene - Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to benzene may cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation, and, at high levels, unconsciousness.  Chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure has caused various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and anemia in occupational settings.  Reproductive effects have been reported for women exposed by inhalation to high levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.  Increased incidences of leukemia have been observed in humans occupationally exposed to benzene.  EPA has classified benzene as a Group A human carcinogen.

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Civil Penalty

Hess will pay a $850,000 civil penalty as follows:

  • $425,000 to the United States
  • $425,000 to the State of New Jersey

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State Partner

The state of New Jersey participated in the settlement negotiations as a co-plaintiff and is a signatory to the Consent Decree.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement is lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.  The consent decree will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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Petroleum Refinery National Initiative Case Results

Through multi-issue, multi-facility settlements or detailed investigations and aggressive enforcement, this national priority addresses the most significant Clean Air Act compliance concerns affecting the petroleum refining industry.

See EPA’s National Petroleum Refining Initiative website for more information.

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For more information, contact:

Technical Contact
Patrick W. Foley
Senior Environmental Engineer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7978

Legal Contact
Robert G. Klepp, Attorney
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-5805

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