Countrymark Refining and Logistics, LLC

(Washington, DC - Feb. 28, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Countrymark Refining and Logistics, LLC has agreed to pay a $167,000 civil penalty, perform environmental projects totaling more than $180,000, and spend $18 million on new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations at its refinery, located in Mount Vernon, Ind.

On this page:

Overview of Company 

CountryMark is a cooperative business, owned and controlled by CountryMark member cooperatives. CountryMark owns and operates a single refinery at 1200 Refinery Road in Mount Vernon, Indiana, which has a processing capacity of approximately 27,000 barrels per day. The refinery processes crude oil from local oil wells in the Illinois Basin (located under parts of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky). A system of approximately five hundred miles of pipeline gathers crude oil from thousands of oil wells and delivers the oil to the Mount Vernon refinery. While CountryMark’s products are also available to non-members, much of the refinery’s products are supplied to member cooperatives in Indiana for distribution.

Top of Page


The settlement resolves allegations of past violations of Clean Air Act requirements that fall into four main categories and will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) at the Mount Vernon 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 Plant
    • Fuel Gas Combustion Devices (including heaters & boilers)
    • FCCU Catalyst Regenerator
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for benzene waste operations, 40 C.F.R. Part 61, Subpart FF
  • Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR), 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts VV, VVa, GGG, and GGGa, 40 C.F.R. Part 61, Subparts J and V, and 40 C.F.R. Part 63, Subparts H and CC

In addition to these four main categories traditionally addressed under the EPA’s Petroleum Refinery National Initiative (see below), the complaint alleges violations related to flare operation, as well as NSR/PSD violations at the refinery’s flares. The settlement also resolves any violations of Section 103(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9603(a), and Sections 304(a) and (b) of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11004(a) and (b) that may have occurred as a result of poor flare operation.

Top of Page

Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires the following actions at the Mount Vernon refinery, at an estimated cost of $18 million.

NSR/PSD at Non-Flare Emission Units

  • FCCU NOx limits of 50 ppmvd NOx on a 7-day rolling average basis (exclusive of startup, shutdown, and malfunction emissions) and 30 ppmvd NOx on a 365-day rolling average basis (inclusive of all emissions).
  • FCCU SO2 limits of 50 ppmvd SO2 on a 7-day rolling average basis (exclusive of emissions during periods of malfunction of the catalyst additive system) and 25 ppmvd SO2 on a 365-day rolling average basis (inclusive of all emissions).
  • Reductions in refinery-wide heater and boiler emissions of NOx by 50% from the historic baseline for units that are greater than 40 mmBTU/hr.  Reductions must result from qualifying controls, which include as options the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR), selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR), ultra-low NOx burners, or other technologies that will achieve a NOx emission rate of 0.040 lb/mmBTU or less and the permanent shutdown of existing heaters and boilers. Continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) for NOx are required for any controlled combustion unit that has a physical capacity greater than 100 mmBTU/hr.
  • Restrictions on the combustion of fuel oil at the refinery.

NSPS Subpart J

  • Acceptance of NSPS Subpart J applicability for the FCCU catalyst regenerator with respect to SO2, CO, and PM. Compliance with the SO2 and CO limits shall be demonstrated using CEMS. Compliance with the PM limit shall be demonstrated through annual stack tests, and compliance with the opacity limit shall be demonstrated using a continuous opacity monitoring system.
  • Acceptance of NSPS Subpart J applicability for all heaters and boilers at the refinery.
  • Acceptance of NSPS Subpart Ja applicability for the sulfur recovery plant, to include all sulfur tank emissions at the refinery. Compliance shall be demonstrated using CEMS. Additionally, CountryMark must develop a plan for maintenance and operation (PMO) of the sulfur recovery plant, the associated tail gas unit, any supplemental control devices, and the upstream process units so as to minimize emissions.
  • Acceptance of NSPS Subparts A and J applicability at the refinery’s sulfur flare (receives only malfunction emissions from the sulfur recovery plant) and main flare (receives all other vent and waste gas generated elsewhere at the refinery).
  • Acceptance of NSPS Subpart Ja applicability for the refinery’s main flare with a timeline for replacing Subpart J compliance with Subpart Ja compliance.

Top of Page

Flare Efficiency and Minimization

  • Ensure good air pollution control practices for minimizing emissions and continuous compliance with the NSPS and NESHAP general provisions, as set forth in 40 C.F.R. §§ 60.18 and 63.11. The settlement explicitly obligates CountryMark to operate the refinery’s main flare at 98% combustion efficiency or better at all times. CountryMark will automate supplemental gas flow and total steam mass flow rates to the refinery’s main flare in order to maintain a minimum net heating value of combustion zone gas (NHVcz) at the main flare by June 30, 2014. In the interim, CountryMark is required to maintain a steam-to-vent gas ratio of 3.0 or less.
  • Submit a waste gas minimization plan, which will include waste gas characterization and mapping to determine the source and quantity of the gas in order to identify opportunities for reducing waste gas flow to the refinery’s main flare.
  • Comply with a refinery-wide short-term flare cap of 203,250 scfd of waste gas on a 30-day rolling average basis and a refinery-wide long-term flare cap of 135,500 scfd of waste gas on a 365-day rolling average basis.

Benzene Waste NESHAP

  • Complete a review and verification of the refinery’s total annual benzene (TAB) emissions and Part 61, Subpart FF compliance. If the review indicates that the refinery’s TAB is greater than 10 Mg/yr, then CountryMark must either comply with the 6 BQ compliance option, as set forth in Subpart FF, or identify and take actions to ensure that the TAB drops and remains below 10 Mg/yr.
  • Conduct an annual review of process and project information for the refinery to ensure that new benzene streams are included in the TAB calculation.
  • Provide training for those who sample benzene.
  • Comply with corrective measure triggers on calculated quarterly and projected annual TAB values.

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.

Top of Page

Supplemental Environmental Projects

The State of Indiana actively participated in the settlement with CountryMark and already received over $110,000 to fund a supplemental environmental project to remove asbestos-containing material from an old grain elevator in downtown Mount Vernon. The settlement also requires CountryMark to provide at least $70,000 in funding for a supplemental environmental project that will install diesel retrofit and/or idle reduction technologies on school buses and/or non-school bus, publicly-owned vehicles located within 50 miles of the refinery.

Top of Page

Pollutant Reductions

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

  • 777 tons of SO2 per year (tpy)
  • 208 tpy of NOx
  • 51 tpy of VOCs
  • 29 tpy of PM
  • 5 tpy of HAPs
  • Additional reductions of VOCs and HAPs are expected as a result of compliance with the consent decree’s benzene waste management and leak detection and repair requirements.
  • The surrounding community will also benefit from emissions and exposure reductions achieved through the two supplemental environmental projects (see above).

Top of Page

Health and Environmental Effects

  • 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.
  • 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 compounds, 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.
  • 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.
  • Particulate Matter - Particle pollution, especially fine particles, contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. Exposure to such particles can affect both the lungs and heart. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing. People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution.
  • 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.

Top of Page

Civil Penalty

CountryMark will pay a $167,000 civil penalty to the United States.

Top of Page

State Partners

The state of Indiana participated in the settlement negotiations as a co-plaintiff and is a signatory to the consent decree.

Top of Page

Comment Period

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

Top of Page

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.

Top of Page

For more information, contact:

Patrick W. Foley
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7978

Virginia A. Sorrell
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7821

Top of Page