ARNOLD ROBBINS, EPA (415) 744-1520 JIM SWEENEY, DOJ (202) 514-2008 TDD: (202) 514-1888

WITCO, CATALYST WILL PAY $700,000 POLLUTION PENALTY AGREE TO INSTALL POLLUTION CONTROL DEVICES WASHINGTON D.C. -- Witco Corp., a California refinery, and Catalyst Golden Bear Cogeneration Partnership, a former operator of a facility that provided heat to Witco's Oildale refinery in Southern California, agreed today to pay a $700,000 penalty to settle federal pollution charges, the Department of Justice and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) said. The charges stemmed from Witco's repeated violations of clean air, water and hazardous waste laws, including endangering a drinking water source for the community of Oildale. Witco, in a consent decree filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the USEPA, also agreed to install millions of dollars of pollution control equipment at its Oildale refinery near Bakersfield, California and to study the extent of soil and groundwater contamination in the vicinity of its refinery. The consent decree settles a lawsuit initiated in October, 1992 in U.S. District Court in Fresno, California in which the USEPA had charged Witco with 14 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Catalyst was charged with two counts of violating the Clean Air Act. "This settlement not only shows that pollution doesn't pay, it shows that there's a better way-- to prevent pollution in the first place," said John Wise, deputy regional administrator of USEPA's western regional office. "Under this settlement, Witco is committed to making its refinery a model of pollution prevention for the oil refining industry." Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said, "Make no mistake, we are committed to enforcing the environmental laws of the land."

"The real winners today are the people of Oildale. They can live with less threat, now that Witco has agreed to change its way of doing business," Schiffer added. The complaint charged that Witco and Catalyst violated the Clean Air Act by emitting excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides--a precursor of smog--into the air. Nitrogen oxides are a component of ozone pollution, which causes health problems ranging from coughing, wheezing and eye irritation to more serious lung infection and permanent lung damage. The ozone pollution level in the San Joaquin Valley, where Oildale is located, has been classified as "serious" by the USEPA because it greatly exceeds the health standard set by the Clean Air Act. Witco further violated the Act by emitting excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide into the air and failing to monitor or to report those emissions to USEPA. Witco violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, the complaint said, by dumping petroleum products such as lubricating oil into shallow holes, or "dry wells," contaminating soil at least 120 feet below the surface and endangering an aquifer used for drinking water by the city of Oildale. Finally, it said Witco illegally disposed hazardous waste solvents from the refinery's laboratory by discharging them into deep injection wells, which violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The consent decree requires Witco to install a wastewater recycling system at a cost of at least $2.25 million and operate it for at least 10 years. The system, by reducing Witco's water usage approximately 80 percent, will save more than 33 million gallons of water a year and end the refinery's current practice of discharging wastewater into deep injection wells. The wells must be closed and the recycling system operating by June 1998. In the meantime, Witco must take immediate steps to ensure that no additional hazardous waste is discharged into the wells and train its employees concerning the proper disposal of spent laboratory solvents. In addition, Witco must immediately close its "dry wells" and monitor soil and groundwater contamination. To prevent further air pollution, Witco must install equipment to monitor and reduce the hydrogen sulfide content of fuel gas burned at the refinery. ### 95-189