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Delaware City Refinery, up for permit renewal, violated permit with March fire

DelDOT traffic camera
A 2019 fire at the Delaware City Refinery

State environmental regulators announced Tuesday that a spring fireat the Delaware City Refinery that injured two people violated the facility’s air quality permit. 

The Delaware City Refinery has a history of environmental violations and is up for operating permit renewal. The state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) held a virtual public hearing on the application last week, but did not allow the public to make live comments. 

The March 11 refinery fire emitted hundreds of pounds of combined sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particular matter and carbon monoxide—and exceeded the facility’s opacity limits with visible smoke, according to the notice of violation released this week. 

Regulators say the violation was corrected the day of the fire. The enforcement action was not served to the company until a few weeks ago.

The permit renewal the company is seeking would contain updates including a change to short-term limits of a certain air pollutant as per a settlement the state reached with the company last summer.

DNREC is accepting written comments from the public on the application through the end of the month. 

The refinery has paid the state more than a million dollars infines, penalties and settlements to resolve permit violations since it restarted a decade ago.

DNREC has cited the facility with violations five times so far this year.

This story has been corrected to clarify when DNREC learned of the violation.

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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