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EPA: Holly refinery to pay pollution fine

Paul Foy, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Holly Refining and Marketing Co. said Thursday it has agreed to pay a $115,000 fine for U.S. Clean Air Act violations at a Utah refinery.

The Environmental Protection Agency said an inspection last year detected emissions from a dome-covered storage pit for propane.

Holly maintains the pit, about 100 feet wide and 100 feet deep, is designed to vent small amounts of propane that mostly get recycled back into storage.

The company disputed the violations but said it wasn't worth fighting the EPA.

"It was less a fine and more a negotiated settlement," said Michael Astin, Holly's environmental manager. "The bottom line is, as much as we disagreed, our only option was to go to court. Our position is, we were following regulations."

EPA inspectors used an ultra-violet camera to detect propane emissions from vents that Austin said were designed to circulate emissions.

The pit circulates its own propane to freeze the ground around it, Astin said. The pit is topped by a rubberized polymer cover.

Holly says it plans to decommission the more than 50-year-old storage pit and backfill the hole.

Woods Cross is about 7 miles north of Salt Lake City.