Western Ordered to Pay Fines

  • Date: December 01, 2010
  • Source: Admin
Webinar All Access Pass Subscription


Western Refining Southwest Inc has been fined by the U.S Environmental and Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to monitor benzene discharges and illegally disposing of hazardous waste. This amounts to violation of a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) filed in August 2009.

The EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said that in public interest, companies should follow the protocols needed to protect the environment and public health. EPA will act quickly to ensure com-pliance with the law when companies do not adhere to rules.

Letters of noncompliance

The EPA served two letters of noncompliance on Western. The first letter of noncompliance dated Sept 24. 2010 was for improper sampling during Aug 20-22, 2010 and exceeding benzene levels in wastewater during June 24-25 and Aug 23, 2010.  The second letter dated Nov 1, 2010, was for improper collection of samples during Sep 3-7 and improper disposal of hazardous waste on Sep 30, 2010.  

Western has 30 days, after receipt of the notification letters, to pay the fines.

About Western

The company operates a petroleum refinery in Jamestown, New Mexico, approximately 17 miles east of Gallup. Multiple violations related to improper storage and treatment of benzene, a human carcinogen present in petroleum, was associated with the refinery. The EPA and the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) brought the violations committed by Western to light in 2009.

In 2009, when the EPA and the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) brought the violations to the notice of Western, the company agreed to pay USD 734,008, stop all discharges of benzene and close two aeration lagoons that received hazardous waste.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

RCRA provides general guidelines for the waste management program. The EPA is required to develop an elaborate set of regulations to implement the law. The hazardous waste program provides a system for controlling hazardous waste from the generation phase to the disposal phase. The hazardous waste laws are enforced either by the State or the EPA.  

Consequences of violation of RCRA

A case in point involves Marshall County, Oklahoma. Several 55-gallon drums lay outside the Carl Eugene Hines-owned H&J Auto (H&J). Marshall County emergency manager-director told Hines that the drums posed a danger and hence should be disposed of properly.  A complaint with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) followed.  It said the barrels were leaking and the owners would not remove them.

An ODEQ investigation confirmed that 34 barrels were present.  They were either leaking or bulging. This confirmed the presence of hazardous waste which amounted to violation of the RCRA. Further investigation by the EPA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that Hines was at fault. The individuals involved in the case were members of a drug ring. Hines was convicted of several violations under the RCRA, including illegally transporting waste.  Hines lost his appeal against the government as the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision.


Best Sellers
You Recently Viewed