Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Opponents of refinery expansion focus on health concerns

Opponents of a proposed expansion at the Tesoro Refinery voiced their concerns to the state Division of Air Quality Tuesday. The project would expand two refineries at the border of Salt Lake City and southern Davis County to increase processing capability for black and yellow wax crude oil. The Uintah Basin contains large deposits of these wax crudes, and a new oil pipeline allows area refineries to transport more petroleum to Cedar City and Las Vegas.

A document made available by the Division of Air Quality said the expansion would "result in increased jobs and royalty payments to the state" and "ensure a long-term market for Utah crude, supporting job growth and providing significant tax revenues to the state."

Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, criticized the Division of Air Quality's emphasis on economic benefits, and compared it to supporting selling cigarettes door-to-door as a means of job creation.

Dan Riley, vice president of government affairs for Tesoro, said the project would help Utah and wouldn't have the environmental impact some said it would. "This is a great project for Tesoro, for Salt Lake, and for the state," he said. "As opposed to going out of state, we'll be able to process local crude."

Riley said Tesoro plans to reduce emissions with the project. A gas cleanup unit that would be built would remove additional sulfur dioxide, lowering it by 66 tons, he said. Although Tesoro expects sulfur dioxide emissions to decrease as a result of the expansion, the Division of Air Quality reported that there would be an increase in actual emissions. However the actual emissions will not exceed the maximum allowable emissions assigned to the refinery, the district reported. Deseret News