EPA rejects Murphy Mereaux permit

The Environmental Protection Agency rejected last week a permit granted to Murphy Oil Corp., for use at its Mereaux facility by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Protection, stating that the LDEQ miscalculated the company’s pollution output when handing out the permit, according to a release by the Concerned Citizens Around Murphy.

The Concerned Citizens filed suit in 2009 alleging that the pollution emitted from the Murphy refinery in their neighborhood had begun to cause irreparable health problems to the area residents.

The parties reached a consent decree resulting from the 2009 suit in February this year that found Murphy liable for 21 clean air violations, and forced the company to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty.

However, the LDEQ informed the EPA in May that St. Bernard Parish — the neighborhood in which the refinery sits — does not meet federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide. Subsequently, the EPA rejected Murphy’s permit and remanded it back to the LDEQ for further review, according to the release.

“If our air has too much of a pollutant like sulfur dioxide already, then it’s important to know the facts when a facility plans to put much more of it in our air,” said Suzanne Kneale, a member of Concerned Citizens. “If pollution exceeds a certain level, then requiring controls could rein it in to safer levels. We can have both safer emissions as well as provide for public health and our quality of life—the choice doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

Valero Energy Corp., purchased the refinery at the beginning of this month for $325 million plus the value of hydrocarbon inventory on hand. The company would not comment for nola.com.

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