Tosco threatens to shut down refinery : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tosco threatens to shut down refinery if pollution rules are enforced Filed: 06/20/2000

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP)  A top Tosco Refining Co. executive says he will shut down the company's refinery by July 1 if state agencies enforce new dioxin discharge limits.

Tosco President Dwight Wiggins told the San Francisco Chronicle for a story Tuesday that the company cannot meet stricter rules for dioxin in the refinery's waste water, which are due to take effect next month.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board will hear Tosco's request to modify its permit at a meeting Wednesday in Oakland.

A shutdown of the plant during the peak summer driving season would likely impact prices at California pumps. Tosco supplies nearly 20 percent of the state's diesel fuel and 5 percent of its gasoline. Gas prices soared last year following an explosion at the refinery that shut down the plant for four months.

Tosco's request is seen as a test case for oil and other industries seeking exemptions from stricter water pollution standards.

Wiggins described the new standard as "unrealistic" and said that most of the dioxin in the refinery's wastewater already exists in San Francisco Bay area storm water and does not come from plant activities.

Environmentalists say the refinery's waste is contributing to the dangerously high levels of dioxin found in San Francisco Bay and have called the company's shutdown threat a bluff to secure the pollution exemption.

A highly toxic chemical, dioxin is produced when chlorine is burned. Dioxin has been identified as a cancer-causing agent and has been linked to diabetes, reproductive disorders and immune system suppression

-- Martin Thompson (, June 20, 2000

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