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Premcor Refining Group, Inc. Civil Settlement

The Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Illinois on July 12, 2001 announced an agreement with The Premcor Refining Group Inc. that will significantly reduce harmful air pollution, including more than 4,700 tons of sulfur dioxide annually, from Premcor's petroleum refinery in Hartford, Ill.

A consent decree calls for Premcor (formerly Clark Refining and Marketing) to install new pollution control equipment, at a cost of up to $20 million, to decrease emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Premcor also will install state-of-the-art burners on certain heaters and boilers to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides. These air pollutants can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

Premcor also will pay $2 million in civil penalties under the Clean Air Act, of which $1.2 million will go to the United States and $800,000 will go to Illinois.

The United States and Illinois alleged that Premcor made major modifications to its Hartford refinery increasing its production capacity and its air emissions without installing the pollution control equipment required by the Clean Air Act's new source review requirements.

"This settlement will reduce harmful air pollution and send a message to other companies. Keeping our air clean must be a priority and must be viewed as a fundamental responsibility. The Bush Administration will enforce vigorously our environmental laws to protect public health and our precious environment," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

Premcor's Hartford refinery processes heavy, "sour" crude oil, which has a high sulfur content. The settlement calls for the company to install a wet gas scrubber on the fluid catalytic cracking unit generally, the largest point of emissions at refineries to control the emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The steps Premcor will take under the settlement will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide by more than 4,700 tons, emissions of particulate matter by 630 tons, and emissions of nitrogen oxides by 270 tons each year.

Under the settlement, Premcor also has agreed to undertake several environmental projects and pollution reduction measures, such as discontinuing the use of fuel oil in heaters and boilers, and undertaking practices designed to reduce flaring from the refinery's coker. The state of Illinois will monitor the pollution-reduction projects with the federal government.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period.