DOVER, DE, Dec. 11, 2014 -- The Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) has entered into a penalty settlement agreement with the Delaware City Refining Company, LLC (DCRC) that will result in the company's installation of modern technology to reduce impacts on aquatic life in the Delaware River and includes an improved fish return system at the Delaware City refinery's water intake structure. The agreement also clarifies the process for renewal of DCRC's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permits and compliance with the NPDES 316(b) rule that governs water intakes.
The agreement addresses numerous alleged water-related violations that have occurred since DCRC restarted the refinery in 2011 and establishes an early implementation schedule for the company's installation of site-specific environmental technologies to minimize impacts on aquatic life in the refinery's cooling water system. This expedited schedule requires the phased installation of "modified traveling screens," considered by EPA to be a "best technology available" (BTA) to address impingement of fish against the screens and impacts to fish populations.
Under the agreement, the screens in the first of three bays will be operational on or before May 31, 2015, the second bay on or before June 30, 2016, and the third bay on or before June 30, 2017. DCRC will also be required to complete installation and begin operation of an improved fish return system no later than completion of the modified traveling screens for the third bay. The agreement calls for concurrent studies to evaluate site-specific technologies to minimize entrainment of aquatic life in the company's cooling water system and to propose an alternative technology that would constitute a BTA for entrainment.
Modified traveling screens specifically designed to minimize impingement of fish and other aquatic organisms and to reduce injury and mortality will replace the existing screen system, which was originally intended to prevent trash from entering the cooling water system of the refinery. The new screens will be constructed of a non-abrasive material to protect fish from descaling and will rotate continuously to prevent prolonged fish impingement against the screens. The screen system will also include a low-pressure wash to help remove impinged or trapped fish from the screens and collection buckets designed to collect and return fish and other aquatic life to the river.
Concurrent with installation of the screens, DCRC will begin the design of and permitting process with DNREC for the improved fish return system. The system will be designed to ensure that fish are returned to the Delaware River/Cedar Creek in a manner that does not allow predation or re-impingement of fish previously impacted at the company's intake structure.
The technological improvements resulting from this settlement agreement are expected to result in a significant reduction in fish mortality from impingement at DCRC. The agreement substantially advances the timeline for installation of technology. Under EPA rules, the company could first study potential improvements and then implement enhancements following the study.
The alleged violations carry an administrative penalty sum of $116,000. Under the agreement, the penalties would be waived upon completion of the modified traveling screens according to the schedule and compliance with other requirements, including implementation of a project to recycle wastewater as part of the facility's cooling water system. The refinery has recently reduced its use of water from the Delaware River by 30 percent under requirements of DNREC and the Delaware River Basin Commission.