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Commerce City (Colo.) refinery agrees to resolve alleged risk management planning and chemical reporting violations

Release Date: 09/29/2014
Contact Information: David Cobb, U.S. EPA, 303-312-6592; Richard Mylott, U.S. EPA, 303-312-6654

(Denver, Colo. - September 29, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Suncor Energy has agreed to pay $230,400 in penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) at its Commerce City, Colo. refinery. The agreement resolves alleged violations of the risk management planning requirements of the CAA and Toxic Release Inventory reporting requirements under EPCRA.

The risk management planning provisions of the Clean Air Act require facilities that store chemicals in amounts exceeding regulatory thresholds to develop and implement plans to assist with emergency preparedness, chemical release prevention, and the minimization of any releases that may occur. The Suncor Refinery processes flammable substances and hydrogen sulfide over the 10,000 pound threshold levels. EPA inspectors found that the facility had not adequately implemented the risk management planning requirements for these chemicals. These deficiencies included compiling incomplete process safety information and the failure to follow procedures for maintaining process equipment.

According to the EPA settlement, Suncor Refinery also failed to report several releases of sulfur dioxide in 2010 and 2011 and failed to file reports to EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for cobalt compounds and tetrachloroethylene handled on site. The failure to file TRI forms deprives local communities of the right to know about the chemicals present on site. Suncor Refinery has since corrected all the alleged violations.

"Risk management plans and the Toxic Release Inventory protect communities by making sure that facilities provide transparent information and have procedures in place to prevent and respond to potential releases of the chemicals they use,” said Suzanne Bohan, EPA’s enforcement program director in Denver. “EPA appreciates Suncor’s responsiveness in addressing these deficiencies.”

EPA’s enforcement action is expected to encourage better compliance with both the CAA risk management planning and EPCRA reporting requirements and will ensure communities have accurate information about chemicals being processed, manufactured, or otherwise used at facilities. The required information also protects the validity of health studies based on the TRI database and helps federal, state, and local authorities plan for emergencies.

EPA’s enforcement action will benefit the communities surrounding the Commerce City refinery by ensuring the facility complies with chemical reporting and risk management regulations. Approximately 70 percent of the population in a 2.4 mile area around the facility is minority and low income.

For more information on the Clean Air Act and risk management requirements:

For more information on the Toxics Release Inventory and EPCRA requirements: