No risk plan results in big fine

Sinclair Oil is facing a $378,000 fine after a 2010 EPA inspection showed the company hadn't properly implemented its risk management plan for its Rawlins, WY, refinery.


ISS SourceWith no proper risk management plan in place, Sinclair Oil is facing a $378,000 fine from the government.

Under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the fine is a result of a 2010 inspection of the company’s troubled oil refinery near Rawlins, WY, the agency announced Thursday.

The inspection showed Sinclair hadn’t properly implemented its risk management plan, a key requirement for the facility, which deals with a large range of toxic substances and hazardous gases, the EPA said.

“Sinclair has had several accidents and releases of hazardous substances over the past several years that relate to process equipment,” said Mike Gaydosh, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Denver. “This settlement will help ensure the company is operating in accordance with industry standards to protect the environment as well as residents of nearby communities.”

Under the terms of the deal, Sinclair will also update operating procedures for its process equipment, provide additional training to workers, improve maintenance of equipment and perform integrity tests on pressure vessels and piping that will reduce the possibility of an accidental release of hazardous chemicals from the refinery, the EPA said.

Sinclair is working “Very aggressively and with great urgency” on the refinery near Rawlins, company spokesman Clint Ensign said.

“We’re devoting more personnel and resources to helping that refinery be better because this is not who we are as a company,” he said. “We’ve done much better in the past and we need to address these situations, and we’re doing so with great urgency.”

The costs of the requirements weren’t available from the EPA or on the court order detailing the settlement filed with the U.S. District Court in Wyoming. Ensign said the deal between the EPA and Sinclair occurred earlier this year.

“Most of the items noted in their 2010 review have already been addressed and taken care of,” Ensign said. “There are some remaining items that are on a set schedule to be addressed.”

Regulators and inspectors have been busy with the refinery, leveling millions of dollars in penalties against Sinclair in the past year and requiring pollution control upgrades and training.

This most recent settlement comes shortly after regulators fined Sinclair for a number of other incidents.

Sinclair just received a fine of $215,250 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for two separate fires in May that severely burned several workers.

Sinclair and the EPA reached a $14.3 million settlement in August for excessive emissions of nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide in incidents dating back to 2008.

In 2011 alone, the state Department of Environmental Quality reached a $5.4 million settlement with Sinclair over a 2010 oil leak that killed birds on the refinery’s evaporation ponds.

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