HOVENSA LLC, Clean Air Act Settlement

"This settlement will produce significant benefits for the environment and for the people of the Virgin Islands. The commitments made by HOVENSA to install state-of-the-art pollution controls will mean cleaner air for years to come." — Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance and Assurance.

(Washington, DC - January 26, 2011) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that HOVENSA LLC, owner of the second largest petroleum refinery in the United States, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5.375 million and spend more than $700 million in new pollution controls that will help protect public health and resolve Clean Air Act violations at its St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands refinery. The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits, and aggressive monitoring, leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and process units.

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Overview of Company and Facility Location Facilities

HOVENSA LLC, which is jointly owned by Hess Corporation and Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., operates a single refinery on St. Croix, V.I. with a refining capacity of 525,000 barrels per day.

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

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

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires the following actions at an estimated cost of $700 million:

New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (NSR/PSD) -- FCCU and Heaters and Boilers

  • FCCU NOx limit of not more than 20 parts per million (ppm) on a 365-day rolling average basis and 40 ppm on a 7-day rolling average basis
  • FCCU SO2 limits of 16 ppm on a 365-day rolling average basis and 25 ppm on a 7-day rolling average basis
  • Installation of NOx and SO2 continuous emission monitors
  • Particulate emissions limits of 1.0 pound per 1,000 pounds coke burned at the FCCU
  • Carbon monoxide emission limit of 500 ppm on a 1-hour average basis at the FCCU
  • Installation of controls (Ultra Low NOx Burners, Selective Catalytic Reduction, or other technology) on refinery heaters and boilers sufficient to achieve a system-wide NOx reduction of 4,744 tons per year (tpy).
  • Compliance with NSPS Subpart J at all heaters and boilers
  • Restrictions on fuel oil burning in heaters to control SO2

New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Flaring

  • Compliance with SO2 standards of Subpart J for all combustion devices burning refinery fuel gas, and with Subparts J and Ja for refinery flares
  • Compliance with SO2 standards of Subpart J or Ja at sulfur recovery processes, including the sulfur pit
  • Comply with NSPS Subpart A, General Provisions, 40 C.F.R. § 60.11 (d), by conducting root cause analyses for all flaring events exceeding 500 lb/day of SO2
  • Installation of flare gas recovery systems

Benzene Waste Operations National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)

  • Compliance with the "2 Mg" benzene compliance option
  • Modified management of change procedures to ensure that new benzene streams are included in the total annual benzene (TAB ) calculation
  • Conduct laboratory audits
  • Quarterly sampling and TAB calculation
  • Training for those who sample benzene

Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program

  • Refinery-wide compliance with LDAR requirements
  • Training, including refresher courses, for refinery personnel with LDAR responsibility
  • Required LDAR compliance audits
  • Strict internal leak definitions (500 ppm for valves and 2000 ppm for pumps)
  • Internal first attempt at repair at 200 ppm for valves
  • More frequent monitoring than required by regulation
  • Elimination of "delay of repair" exception
  • Installation of "low-leaking" valve or valve packing technology

Delayed Coking Unit

  • Comply with a Coker Steam Vent depressurization standard of 2 pounds per square in gauge (psig)

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Pollutant Reductions

Once all emissions controls have been installed and implemented at the FCCU, refinery heaters and boilers, and combustion devices burning refinery fuel gas, this settlement is estimated to result in the following emissions reductions in tpy:

  • NOx emissions by 5,031 tpy
  • SO2 emissions by 3,460 tpy

Compliance with the 2 psig Coker Steam Vent depressurization standard is estimated to result in the following additional emissions reductions in tpy:

  • Greenhouse Gases (as Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, or "CO2e" by 6,163 tpy
  • Non-methane/non-ethane VOCs by 40 tpy
  • PM by 17 tpy
  • PM10/PM2.5 by 15 tpy
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) by 29 tpy

The settlement will also result in additional reductions of particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide, benzene, VOCs and other 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

HOVENSA will pay a $5.375 million civil penalty as follows:

  • $5.125 million to the United States
  • $250,000 to the Virgin Islands

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Supplemental Environmental Project

HOVENSA will establish a $4.875 million "Virgin Islands Territorial SEP Fund" to support one or more projects to be implemented for the benefit of the Virgin Islands. Projects to be funded by the Virgin Islands Territorial SEP Fund are to be determined jointly by HOVENSA and the Virgin Islands, in consultation with EPA and in consideration of the project's environmental, public health, pollution prevention or reduction benefits.

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Territorial Partner

The U.S. Virgin Islands participated in the settlement negotiations and is a party to the settlement.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement is lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands. 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:

Patrick W. Foley
Senior Environmental Engineer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-7978

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