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U.S., Illinois reach agreement with ExxonMobil for violations at Joliet refinery

Release Date: 10/13/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: EPA – Phillippa Cannon, (312) 353-6218
Illinois EPA – Maggie Carson, (217) 558-1536

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA212

CHICAGO (Oct. 13, 2005) — Agreements between the federal government, three states including Illinois, and ExxonMobil filed Oct. 11 in U.S. District Courts in Chicago and Lafayette, La., resolve environmental violations at seven of the company's refineries in five states, including its Joliet, Ill., facility.

"This agreement will result in significant reductions in nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from the Joliet refinery and cleaner air for Illinois," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Tom Skinner.

"This important settlement will not only result in additional pollution control equipment at the ExxonMobil Joliet refinery resulting in cleaner air but fund important conservation and environmental projects in the region as well," said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott.

The company has agreed to spend an estimated $180 million on environmental improvements at its Joliet refinery and $2.2 million on supplemental environmental projects in Illinois.

The settlements require the company to install and implement innovative control technologies, reducing annual emissions of harmful toxins that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma. Improvements specific to the Joliet refinery include reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 1,818 tons per year and sulfur dioxide emissions by 24,069 tons per year; implementing an extensive wastewater monitoring and record-keeping system; and taking measures to minimize or eliminate benzene emissions and stray emissions of
volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. The company will also pay a $500,000 fine to the federal Superfund for violations at the Joliet refinery.

In addition, ExxonMobil has agreed to spend $2.2 million on environmental projects near the Joliet refinery including $1 million to expand and restore the Midewin Tall Grass Prairie; $100,000 on emergency response equipment for Will County; $800,000 for the Joliet Heater Control Project; and $250,000 towards retrofitting diesel engines in Joliet city vehicles with lower-emissions technology.

Two previous enforcement actions against the refinery, referred to the Illinois Attorney General's Office by the Illinois EPA, are covered by this settlement. These previous enforcement actions are a result of releases in 1999 and 2002 from the refinery's coker unit. Part of the technical remedy included in the settlement will address improvements to coker unit operations.

Nationally, ExxonMobil will make improvements at its refineries estimated to cost $571 million and spend $9.7 million on supplemental environmental projects. It will also pay a $8.7 million civil penalty, including $6 million to the United States and $650,000 to Illinois. The settlement is the 17th in a joint Department of Justice-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative to reduce pollution in domestic petroleum refineries nationwide.

The other affected refineries are in Baton Rouge, La.; Baytown, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; Billings, Mont.; Chalmette, La.; and Torrance, Calif. Copies of the consent decrees are available on the Department of Justice Web site at Exit EPA disclaimer

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