COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Suncor Energy reached a $300,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violations at the refinery, the EPA announced in a news release Friday.
During an inspection in September 2020, the EPA said it uncovered problems with the prevention of chemical accidents, reporting of toxic chemical releases, and acknowledgment of the community's right to know what was happening at the refinery.
Suncor will pay $60,000 in civil penalties and will spend more than $240,000 on emergency response equipment to address the issues with its chemical accident response.
This is just the latest development in a now years-long struggle for Suncor.
Earlier this month, the EPA rejected Suncor's request for an operation permit until Colorado regulators affirmed the Commerce City refinery was in compliance with state and federal clean air laws.
EPA rejects Suncor's air quality permit, tasks CDPHE to make changes
"Facilities must properly handle hazardous substances to prevent dangerous chemical accidents and follow reporting requirements when releases occur,” KC Becker, the EPA's regional administrator, said in a news release Friday. “If they don’t, EPA will hold them accountable. We are pleased that Suncor is implementing critical safety measures to protect workers and the community."
The 2020 inspection focused on the root causes of what happened in December 2019 when yellow particles fell from the sky and covered cars and equipment just north of Denver, triggering two schools to prompt a lockout.
Earlier in 2019, a Denver Post investigation exposed the company broke the limit for an invisible toxic gas that can be deadly and failed to tell neighbors.
Suncor takes responsibility for raining yellow particles
During its investigation of the incident, the EPA found Suncor "failed to maintain correct safety information, complete outstanding hazard analyses, update operating procedure and follow management-of-change procedures," the agency cited in its new release Friday.
Suncor also "failed to timely report two [chemical] releases and failed to report sulfuric acid in their industrial batteries to the local emergency responders," according to the EPA.
The refinery certified with the EPA that it has addressed these issues.