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Calumet Montana Refining hit with $385K penalty

Calumet refinery in Great Falls
calumet refinery map
Posted at 8:52 AM, Dec 18, 2023

GREAT FALLS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week a Clean Air Act settlement in which Calumet Montana Refining, LLC, has agreed to pay a $385,000 penalty and address violations of Risk Management Plan requirements at its petroleum refining facility in Great Falls.

The federal agency said in a news release that the settlement, filed as a Consent Agreement on December 12, 2023, resulted from a 2019 EPA inspection at the Calumet facility that revealed several violations related to the management of flammable mixtures and hydrofluoric acid.

Deficiencies were associated with process safety information, hazard analysis, mechanical integrity, and operating procedures. The EPA says that Calumet has been cooperative in correcting all identified deficiencies to reduce the possibility of an accidental release.

In an email, Calumet provided the following information:

These 2019 alleged infractions were administrative in nature and were not related to any allegation of harm to the community or the environment. “We’re committed to safe and compliant operations,” said Carlos Centurion, Plant Manager. “We love our community and invest in equipment and procedural improvements and safety training as a regular part of our business. However, this settlement is in reference to administrative practices, which we have improved accordingly.”

"Facilities must properly handle hazardous substances to prevent dangerous chemical accidents and follow reporting requirements when releases occur,” said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA Region 8’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, in the news release. “If they don’t, EPA will hold them accountable. We are pleased that Calumet Montana Refining is implementing critical safety measures to protect workers and the community."

The news release says that the case is part of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative to reduce risks from chemical accidents. It addresses compliance within the petroleum refining industry sector, which can pose serious risks from such accidents. Following recommendations made by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board in April 2019, EPA is focused on ensuring compliance with the RMP at petroleum refining facilities that store and process hydrofluoric acid.

The Calumet facility is subject to Clean Air Act RMP regulations because it stores and processes large quantities of flammable mixtures and hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic substance that may cause severe injury, burns or death when released into air. The RMP rule requires facilities holding more than 10,000 pounds of flammable mixture or 1,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid to develop a RMP and submit that plan to EPA.

RMPs address the proper design and maintenance of equipment such as pipes and vessels, emergency preparedness and the ability to minimize releases that may occur. They provide valuable information to local fire, police and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. Making these plans available to the public also fosters communication and awareness to improve accident prevention and emergency response practices at the local level.