Delegation Urges EPA to Keep Pressure on Motiva

WASHINGTON, DC – In a strong appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Delaware’s Congressional Delegation today called on the acting administrator to disclose the status of negotiations with the Motiva Oil Refinery in Delaware City regarding the air pollution controls the refinery is required to implement later this year. The Delegation requested that the agency provide an immediate update on its efforts to ensure that Motiva complies with a March 2001 consent decree that mandated new air pollution controls be implemented at the refinery. The Delegation also requested that the agency describe how it plans to inform the public on the status of such pollution controls. A partial transcript of the letter to the EPA Acting Administrator Marianne Lamont Horinko follows:

“We are writing today regarding the Motiva Refinery Delaware City, Delaware and the consent decree the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and Motiva Enterprises LLC entered into mandating that significant air pollution control measures be implemented at the plant. As you are probably aware, the consent decree Motiva, EPA and DNREC entered into in March of 2001 included provisions stipulating the modification of the refinery’s Fluid Coker Unit (FCU) and Fluidized Catalytic Cracker Unit (FCCU) to include regenerative wet gas scrubbers to curb air pollutants, most notably sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. As laid out in the decree, the FCU scrubber is to be operational by December 31, 2003 with the FCCU scrubber to follow no later than December 31, 2004. If the refinery fails to have either scrubber operational by the abovementioned deadlines, it will be subject to quarterly penalties of $100,000. Late last year, it was revealed that Motiva proposed amending the consent decree to allow for the construction of two traditional or nonregenerative wet gas scrubbers on its FCU and FCCU. During negotiations between the EPA, DNREC and Motiva, it was discovered that the operation of these traditional wet gas scrubbers would lead to an increase in the amount of pollutants being discharged into the Delaware River. As a result, Delaware’s Governor Ruth Ann Minner publicly announced that the state would not support Motiva’s proposal to amend the consent decree. It is important to note that during the time period in which Motiva unsuccessfully solicited for a modification to the consent decree, Delawareans and public officials alike repeatedly expressed their frustration with the lack of information being made available regarding Motiva’s proposal and its possible consequences on the environment. The deadline imposed in the consent decree for the operation of the FCU scrubber is quickly approaching, and yet we are again in a situation where no communication is coming from the EPA or the other parties regarding the status of Motiva’s progress in meeting the goals laid out in the original consent decree. Because of this, we request that you provide us with an update on the efforts the EPA has undertaken to make sure Motiva complies with this decree. In addition, we would be interested in knowing what the EPA is doing to make sure the public is also keep abreast of this information, as we certainly do not want to repeat the series of events that plagued the state of Delaware earlier this year. Thank you for your attention in this matter. Because of the seriousness and interest we share on this issue, we request that you respond to this correspondence at your earliest convenience.”