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Petroleum Refinery Agrees to Pay $700,000 Penalty

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 5:42am
the Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A petroleum refinery and underground storage facility in McPherson County has agreed to pay $700,000 in penalties to settle violations of federal and state laws.

Under a consent decree filed Monday in federal court in Kansas City, the National Cooperative Refinery Association agreed to pay $475,000 to the United States and $225,000 to the state. It also agreed to spend about $745,000 on environmental projects such as the purchase of emergency response equipment and services for agencies in McPherson County.

The company operates an 85,000-barrel-per-day petroleum refinery in the city of McPherson and an underground product storage facility in nearby Conway.

The government alleged National Cooperative Refinery Association polluted the air, citing a 20-day flaring event that caused "significant emissions" of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Regulators also alleged in their complaint that the firm did not fully implement a risk management program at its refinery and storage facility.

Other violations cited in the complaint dealt with failing to make timely reports of releases of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide during four separate flaring events at the refinery, submitting incomplete reports about chemicals at the facility and failing to submit an accurate toxic release inventory to regulators.

The agreement requires the company to address those violations. It also requires it improve its future compliance by putting greater emphasis on a risk management program through such things as studies, detailed inspection timelines and documentation.

Those supplemental environmental projects totaling at least $745,000 are designed to prevent accidental chemical releases, minimize consequences of any accidents and enable local emergency responders to respond more effectively to chemical accidents.

The agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

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