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Delaware City Refinery violated flaring permits twice last year, officials say

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware City Refinery has been hit with more permit violations by state environmental officials. 

Two Notices of Violation sent to the Delaware City Refining Company by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) last month claim the refinery violated its air emissions permits several times last summer and fall. 

A noticedated Feb. 6 claims an incinerator at the plant exceeded its permitted emissions levels for sulfuric acid during a stack test in August. A subsequent stack test showed it returned to compliance by the end of October. 

A second noticedated Feb. 14 claims the refinery released 550 pounds total of sulfur dioxide through two flaring events— one on July 31 and another on Oct. 23, 2019. While the refinery's flare system is permitted by DNREC, the permit does not allow discharge of any pollutants from the system, according to the notice.


A memo from Lindsay Rennie of the state Division of Air Quality's refinery support program states that the Division has identified active oversight followed by aggressive enforcement of flaring violations as a strategy to address hydrocarbon flaring at the refinery. But because of the freqency of flaring incidents, it was recommended that enforcement actions for them be processed periodically rather than individually.


"The number of flaring events has significantly decreased after implementation of this strategy," the memo reads. "I recommend that the semi-annual flaring enforcement schedule continue."

The refinery resolved a series of other violations just over a month ago.  That settlementwith state regulators included issues connected to last year’s fire at the refinery caused by an inadequately winterized pipe. The fireand the flaring event that followed released more than three tons of combined air pollutants — and cost the refinery $70,000 in fines and fees to the state. 


Last summer, the refinery agreed to pay the state close to $1 million to resolve violations from the first eight years following its restart in 2010. That agreement also included permit changes which offered the refinery some operational flexibility. 

A spokesperson with PBF Energy, which runs the refinery, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest violation notices. 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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