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Regulators hit Suncor Energy oil refinery in Commerce City with over 100 air pollution violations

State regulators threaten Suncor with fines
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 22:13:35-05

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — State regulators have released a report of over 100 unmet standards and violations at the Suncor Energy oil refinery in Commerce City.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s report details leaks, unregulated plant flares and dozens of cases of hydrogen sulfide and acid gas levels well above emissions standards.

“I think it’s just the beginning. I think this community, we are not asking for a favor anymore,” mother Lucy Molina said.

Molina has lived in Commerce City near the refinery for six years. She said her children had to shelter in place at school in December because of a large yellow plume of ash released by Suncor. She said emissions are causing her and her children to suffer from migraines, bloody noses and skin irritation.

“It’s been a nightmare for me and my family dealing with medical issues,” Molina said. “I can’t go play basketball with my son, I can’t do normal things I want to do. Sometimes I have migraines for three or four days.”

Molina has become so concerned about Suncor’s impact she has become a community organizer.

In a statement, Suncor told Denver7, “We are working with the CDPHE through its processes to resolve the Compliance Advisory. The events you note were self-reported by Suncor. “

The report doesn’t lay out a plan to cut down on violations or describe the health or environmental impacts of such violations. But it does threaten to pull Suncor's permit and penalties of $15,000 per day.

Molina is critical of regulators for not doing more outreach in her community.

“We have a lot of Spanish community that is afraid to come out and doesn’t understand these technical terms thrown by the city,” she said.