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CDPHE deliberates operation permit for Suncor refinery in Commerce City

Suncor Oil Refinery in Commerce City
Posted at 5:29 AM, Feb 11, 2021

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Canadian oil company Suncor is filing a renewal for its permit with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to continue operating in Commerce City. The permit, reviewed every five years, is likely to be renewed, but has drawn criticism from neighbors of the plant who say the company has done little to improve its environmental footprint.

"Suncor has been here forever. It's part of the community that is built around it," said William Clay, a Commerce City resident. "But we have had a few issues over the past year where it has gotten a little smelly."

The company has been criticized over the past several years for emissions that have impacted the nearby area. It has maintained no damage to the health of the surrounding community, but neighbors say they have been impacted.

"If the wind is blowing the right way from Suncor, you smell all the carbon fumes and it is irritating at times," Clay said. "If you have breathing difficulties, things like that can really affect you."

Representatives with the CDPHE said the permit approval process is not the best method for bringing about change with the company. However, they said incremental improvements can be made.

"The purpose of the Title V Permit is to gather existing applicable requirements into a single permit and include monitoring, record keeping, and reporting requirements that are sufficient to ensure the applicable requirements are enforceable," a spokesperson for the CDPHE said in a statement. "New emission limitations or control requirements can be added through state or federal regulatory revisions, statutory changes, or through the resolution of enforcement actions."

The CDPHE held a public listening session on Wednesday night to hear from neighbors of the plant. The CDPHE is also holding a 30-day public comment period for the permit renewal starting on Feb. 17.

Denver7 contacted Suncor for comment on the permit process, but has not heard back.