Citgo Petroleum Corp. will fix violations found at the company’s Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery, federal officials said.
In addition, Citgo will pay a $360,000 civil penalty and give $117,000 to the Corpus Christi Fire Department to purchase equipment to detect and identify suspected chemical leaks, said officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which reached the deal with the oil giant.
“Keeping communities and workers safe is the highest priority for EPA’s enforcement program,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Companies have to be held accountable when they violate these important regulations.”
A Citgo spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The EPA, acting on a tip from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), discovered the violations during an unannounced inspection of the 163,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in June 2012.
“The inspectors found violations in a range of areas, including equipment and controls, operation and auditing procedures, and initial and ongoing training,” the agency said.
Citgo must correct each violation as part of the agreement.
The CSB found numerous problems with a system meant to prevent a dangerous release of hydrofluoric acid into the atmosphere following a 2009 fire on an alkylation unit that uses the highly corrosive and poisonous substance.
The CSB found a series of water cannons meant to spray the unit during a release of the acid nearly failed completely, risking a large release of hydrogen fluoride vapor outside of the refinery.
The board found about 4,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid likely spread outside the refinery, but ended up carried away from populated areas by prevailing winds.
Citgo received a sentence last year in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi to pay more than $2 million in fines after convictions of violations of the Clean Air Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the operation of two open tanks at the refinery used to separate oil from water.