Oily mess

The US environment protection agency pulls up polluting oil companies

Published: Wednesday 15 December 1999

around half the oil refineries in the us are violating air emission standards, according to the us environmental protection agency (epa), which is now planning to sue these companies. The epa is holding settlement talks with several oil companies. Reuters news agency has quoted a source well acquainted with the workings of the epa as saying, "Many of these cases are expected to be settled fairly quickly."

Between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the nation's 160-odd oil refineries are violating the clean air act. "At this point, a number of investigations are being conducted and we expect to find non-compliance and address it through enforcement," the source told Reuters .

The polluting refineries are located throughout the country and not concentrated in some regions. The air pollution violations are occurring when the refineries modify their cracking units that process crude oil into various petroleum products, one of which is gasoline. "Typically, if there is a cause for concern, we find it at a cracking unit. By making changes at the plants they have increased emissions without having gone through the permitting process and putting on pollution control equipment," the source informed.

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