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New Jersey Refinery To Pay $1.2 Million To Settle Federal Air Pollution Suit

Release Date: 08/26/1998
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(#98110) New York, New York -- Subsidiaries and affiliates of Coastal Corporation, a Houston-based oil company, have agreed to a $1.2 million settlement to resolve claims that they violated the federal Clean Air Act at a New Jersey refinery, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Under the agreement, subsidiaries and affiliates of Coastal will pay a $300,000 penalty and will spend $900,000 on a scrubber to reduce air pollution.

"This settlement will help ensure that the people who live in and around Southern New Jersey have cleaner, healthier air to breathe," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In a lawsuit filed with the settlement in the U.S. District Court in Camden today, the government alleged that Coastal's subsidiaries and affiliates violated air pollution laws at power plants serving a Coastal refinery in West Deptford Township, on the Delaware River. The government's lawsuit alleged that Coastal failed to comply with permits issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. According to the government's suit, Coastal violated permit conditions that restricted the operation of old steam-generating boilers at the refinery. In addition, the government's action alleges that Coastal violated permit conditions limiting sulfur dioxide emissions from the cogeneration plant that supplies power and steam to the refinery.

Sulfur dioxide is a pollutant which can be harmful to human health. Sulfur dioxide contributes to the formation of fine particulate air pollution, which is now regulated by the EPA because recent health studies show it can also be harmful to human health.

Coastal could have prevented the sulfur dioxide emission violations by using cleaner natural gas as a fuel for the cogeneration plant or by employing more effective control equipment with the gas it did use.

Under the supplemental environmental project, Coastal will install an Amine scrubber on the fuel going to the power plants at the refinery. This scrubber will remove hydrogen sulfide from the fuel that is burned, which will result in at least a 25% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from the power plants.

"This settlement will improve New Jersey's environment by reducing the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted by these plants beyond what the law requires," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Region II Deputy Administrator. "At the same time, the penalty sends a strong message that polluters will pay for violating environmental law."

The proposed settlement is on file with the federal district court and will be published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period. After the comment period ends, the government may ask the court to finalize the agreement.

For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: