Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Illinois, will spend just shy of $11 million to settle a federal lawsuit accusing the company of violating the Clean Air Act by emitting an excessive amount of dangerous chemicals. The lawsuit was brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice, and the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Wood River Refinery, located on the Mississippi River about 15 miles northeast of St. Louis, is owned by Phillips 66 and Cenovus Energy and is operated by WRB Refining LP. In 2009, the refinery made operation changes that resulted in more than a dozen violations including excessive emissions of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and benzene.
The compounds escaping from the facility can affect lung function and irritate respiration in humans, according to the lawsuit. Benzene is also a carcinogen and has been linked to blood cancers, including leukemia.
According to the lawsuit, during a 2014 inspection and follow-up inspection at the plant, officials found hydrocarbon emissions escaping from vents and seams in the roof and benzene leaking from more than a dozen locations on the site.
As part of the settlement, Wood River Refinery will pay a $475,000 fine and make $10.8 million in upgrades to bring the refinery’s operations up to federal and state standards. The company will also implement a $500,000 effort to decrease lead paint hazards at certain homes and buildings.
In 2017, Wood River Refinery settled separate litigation brought by 183 properties that alleged the company was leaking pollutants underground. In 2016, the refinery settled another matter over claims that it was releasing mercury, fecal matter, ammonia and other byproducts into the Mississippi River.
Source: Belleville News-Democrat