ConocoPhillips Inc. today agreed to pay $129,524 in civil penalties for pollution at its refinery in Trainer Borough, Delaware County, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said in a release.
"We documented numerous air quality violations, including sulfur dioxide emissions in excess of permitted levels," Department of Environmental Protection Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said in a statement. "One of the violations, a February 2007 hydrocarbon emission release at the refinery, resulted in voluntary evacuation of nearby residents. These are serious issues that must be addressed and corrected by ConocoPhillips."
On Feb. 10, 2007, a leak in a refinery condenser released about 129 tons of hydrocarbons in just over an hour, causing a voluntary evacuation of nearby Post Road residents, the DEP said.
DEP also found that the company has incorrectly reported emissions of sulfur oxides in 2002 and 2004, and hazardous air pollutant emissions in 2003 and 2004.
In 2006, DEP documented excess emissions of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, isobutene and propane, as well as minor tank violations, the agency said.
High concentrations of sulfur dioxide affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hydrogen sulfide has a rotten egg odor and at heavy concentrations, can kill or cause illness, EPA said. Isobutene and propane are both highly flammable.
A company spokesman said "ConocoPhillips continues to cooperate with the state and has identified procedures to minimize the potential for reoccurrence of such events in the future."
DEP said it has previously fined the Houston-based company $24,919 for other violations in 2005 and 2006, including sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide emissions that exceeded allowable limits.
The company's Trainer Borough refinery is located at 4101 Post Road.
For more from DEP, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Air Quality.