Refiner Sunoco has revealed a new initiative to improve the environmental impact of its production facilities after being brought to task by US authorities over its levels of air pollution. The company plans to carry out $275 million worth of improvement at its refineries in order to reducing its sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Sunoco said that it will implement its environmental improvement projects at its Philadelphia, PA, Marcus Hook, PA, Toledo, OH, and Tulsa, OK refineries. The company expects to spend approximately $275 million over a period of eight years in connection with the improvement projects in order to reduce emissions of SO2 (sulfur dioxides) and Knox (nitrogen oxides) by approximately 78%.

These projects, which will involve the installation of state-of-the-art emission control technology, are part of a recent settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. Sunoco and three other companies had been recently engaged in discussions with US officials over alleged violations of clean air laws.

The discussions with the various agencies have taken place as a result of the federal comprehensive refinery enforcement action initiated by EPA in late 1999. The EPA program targeted the petroleum, paper, and utility industries.

In addition to Sunoco, Valero, Tesoro and Suncor Energy have also agreed with US authorities to upgrade their environmental protection technologies. Cumulatively the four energy companies will spend close to $1 billion at 18 refineries to meet agreed improvements in air pollution standards. Sunoco will also pay $3 million in penalties in connection with its settlement.