Suncor Energy’s oil refinery in Commerce City experiences more malfunctions that release toxic chemicals into the air than other similarly sized plants in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency found in a report released Friday.
Inadequacies in preventative maintenance, testing and inspections of various control systems and electrical equipment lead to excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide being released into the air, the EPA found.
The refinery was compared to 11 other plants with the same production capacity and that also are operating under a consent decree with the EPA, the report said.
The report will be used by the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during inspections so regulators can target specific equipment at the refinery, said KC Becker, the EPA’s Region 8 director. The report also will be considered in permit updates and enforcement actions at the plant.
“This isn’t just a paper exercise,” Becker said during a Friday morning news briefing. “It’s a step toward improving Suncor’s compliance and its operational performance and reducing incidents leading to air emissions that can harm nearby communities.”