Third-Party Objective Analysis Clears the Air

Litigation, North America

Refinery air emissions led to repeated notices of violations and a threatened consent decree to implement costly pollution abatement equipment. Baker & O'Brien was called on to independently investigate the causes of sulfur dioxide emission exceedances and to recommend measures to improve emission control reliability and reduce upsets. Our expert report outlined an effective and acceptable solution.

Petroleum refineries must comply with strict air pollution regulations promulgated by federal, state and local environmental agencies. Any exceedance of such regulations must be immediately reported to such agencies and the refiner may be subject to a "Notice of Violation" (NOV), as well as fines and/or other penalties.

Due to a series of operational upsets, a petroleum refiner repeatedly exceeded its allowable sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Several NOVs were issued by the environmental agency in charge, and it threatened to issue a consent decree demanding installation of costly new pollution control equipment.

Baker & O'Brien was engaged to independently investigate the causes of the SO2 exceedance incidents and recommend measures to reduce future upsets and improve SO2 emission control reliability. Our consultants were able to outline a specific plan to resolve the SO2 emission issues at a much lower cost than would have been required under the proposed consent decree. They were also able to explain the basis for our conclusions directly to both parties, which helped defuse a lack of trust that had developed between the company and the regulators. Thus, a thorny issue was resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Melvin M. Sinquefield

Senior Consultant

Petroleum Refining
Standard of Care / Litigation
North America