CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office is suing HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining LLC for a second time in the past two years for environmental violations.
The court case, filed July 2 in Laramie County District Court on behalf of the people of Wyoming, alleges the company is violating the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act, the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.
The first lawsuit, filed in February 2018, alleged similar violations and is still active.
HollyFrontier is a petroleum refining company that produces products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, specialty lubricant products and more, according to its website. The Delaware-based company also has a principal office in Texas and is licensed to operate in Wyoming. It operates a refinery in south Cheyenne.
Calls seeking comment from officials at HollyFrontier and to Assistant Attorney General Caitlin Kurnath, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state, were not returned to the WTE.
“HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining LLC produces high-quality, petroleum products to power the Western economy, including providing clean fuels for automotive travel, and is committed to doing so in an environmentally responsible way.
“...The complaint filed by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is based on monitoring reports submitted by the refinery to WDEQ. HFRC has undertaken a number of steps to better ensure compliance with applicable environmental limitations.”
According to court documents:
The company violated environmental regulations by exceeding the permitted sulfer dioxide emission limits. Sulfer dioxide is an environmental pollutant that, when inhaled, can cause harmful respiratory effects such as bronchoconstriction and increase asthma symptoms.
The pollutant can also cause increased hospital visits, especially for the elderly or young children.
The company also exceeded limits for carbon monoxide pollution, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants – all of which can have negative health effects.
These violations took place in 2016 and in 2017. The company was initially warned with a violation notice.
Each pollutant limit was exceeded by hundreds of hours of emissions and in unit measurements. The pollutant flares, incinerators and boilers are all at fault for exceeding the pollutant limits. A few examples include:
- HollyFrontier submitted a monitoring report showing the company exceeded emission limits for sulfer dioxide for 202 hours in the second quarter and for 118 hours in the third quarter of 2016.
- Monitoring reports for the main flare on Plant No. 2, which burns fuel gas with hydrogen sulfide concentrates, shows it was operable in excess of regulatory limits by 612 hours during the final nine months of 2016 and by 326 hours during the first half of 2017.
- Nitrogen oxide emissions from HollyFrontier’s Boiler No. 3 exceeded regulatory limits by 216 hours in the final quarter of 2016 and 192 hours in the first quarter of 2017.
A total of 17 environmental violation claims are included in the lawsuit. The suit is asking for up to $10,000 in civil penalties for each day the company violated environmental regulations. It’s unclear from the lawsuit how many days the state alleges HollyFrontier to be in violation.
Freelance writer Jake Sherlock contributed to this report.