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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2004

Sunoco to pay $475,000 fine for suburban Toledo refinery

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sunoco Inc. will pay a $475,000 fine to settle air pollution violations at its refinery on Woodville Road in the Toledo suburb of Oregon, according to the latest consent order negotiated between the company and the state attorney general's office.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday that the order, filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, requires the refinery to stay in compliance for sulfur dioxide emissions.

A similar order was signed in 1995, when Sunoco agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and achieve reductions that the state EPA had sought since 1988. Two years ago, state attorneys sued Sunoco on the grounds that it had violated the 1995.

Attorneys contended in the latest suit that the refinery had exceeded sulfur dioxide limits on more than 200 days since 1996.

"Our goal is to protect human health and the environment. Bringing this facility into compliance helps us reach that goal," said Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokesman.

Judge James Bates of Lucas County Common Pleas Court ruled against Sunoco on Sept. 9 but had not issued penalties.

Sunoco spokesman Olivia Summons said she does not anticipate problems with the refinery staying in compliance.

Sulfur dioxide, a common refinery byproduct, is a smelly gas that enters the atmosphere via smokestacks. It is one of the principal causes of acid rain, a form of chemical precipitation that damages forests, streams, and lakes as it mixes with clouds moving into the eastern United States and Canada.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a sister agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said exposure to extreme levels of sulfur dioxide can be life-threatening. The pollutant can cause a burning in the nose and throat and can trigger breathing problems, according to the agency, which is in the midst of studying risks for some 57,000 residents within three miles of the refinery.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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