DENVER | Air pollution regulators in Colorado have accepted a third party consultant’s recommendations on changes that will help prevent an oil refinery from releasing toxins into the Commerce City region.
Suncor Energy Inc. reached a $9 million settlement with the state Department of Public Health and Environment in March 2020 after years of toxic emissions and air quality violations near Commerce City, The Colorado Sun reported Monday.
Suncor was required to hire a consultant as part of the settlement agreement and spend at least $5 million on upgrades to the plant.
The state on Friday said Suncor will spend $12 million on a new automatic shutdown system by December for a catalytic cracking unit that makes gas and upgrade an older unit by the end of June. The state previously asked for stronger measures, but is now approving the refinery’s revised plan.
Director of Environmental Health and Protection Shaun McGrath said the plan resulted in positive changes at the refinery, but the state will still keep an eye on the company until it can prove it will be better.
Some environmental advocates have criticized the plan for its temporary solutions and have called for the refinery to be removed from the community, not just modified.
The state is also still considering the company’s application to renew a general operating permit, which has expired. The state Air Pollution Control Division allows many companies to continue operations while staff considers renewals.