Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $300,030 settlement with the Suncor Energy USA Inc., Commerce City Refinery (Suncor) to resolve alleged violations of toxic chemical-related regulations.

The settlement addresses chemical accident prevention, toxic chemical release reporting and community right-to-know violations at the refinery, which EPA discovered during an inspection conducted from September 14-17, 2020. Suncor will pay $60,000 in civil penalties. It will also spend at least $240,030 on emergency response equipment as a Supplemental Environmental Project to enhance the chemical release accident response capabilities of the South Adams County Fire Department in Commerce City, Colorado.

“Facilities must properly handle hazardous substances to prevent dangerous chemical accidents and follow reporting requirements when releases occur,” said KC Becker, EPA Regional Administrator. “If they don’t, EPA will hold them accountable. We are pleased that Suncor is implementing critical safety measures to protect workers and the community.”

The inspection focused on the root causes related to the catalyst release that occurred on December 11, 2019, among other areas. The EPA found that Suncor violated the following regulations:

  • The Risk Management Program under the Clean Air Act, which is aimed at preventing accidental releases of chemicals that can have serious consequences for public health, safety, and the environment; Specifically, Suncor failed to maintain correct process safety information, complete outstanding process hazard analyses, update operating procedures and follow management of change procedures.
  • Toxic chemical release reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which are designed to notify the community of toxic releases from facilities to help prepare for and protect against chemical accidents. Specifically, Suncor failed to timely report two releases and failed to report sulfuric acid in their industrial batteries to the local emergency responders.

Suncor certified that it addressed these findings.