For release: April 21, 2004

New data on Sunoco Toledo Refinery:
Hundreds of times more pollution than executives admitted to neighbors


Rachael Belz, Associate Director
Ohio Citizen Action, (513) 221-2100

For a year, Sunoco has told the neighbors of its Toledo refinery that pollution from the plant had dropped to approximately 50,000 pounds a year and that "Since 1988, the Toledo Refinery has reduced its environmental releases by approximately 85%. . ."

These statements are not only false, they are not even close: Sunoco emits hundreds of times more pollution than executives admitted to neighbors, according to the most recent available data obtained by Ohio Citizen Action from the Environmental Services Division, City of Toledo. Further, the pollution has been increasing sharply.

Sunoco's two versions of its Toledo Refinery emissions
(in pounds)
 
2000
2001
2002
What Sunoco told neighbors
45,326
50,105
48,819
What Sunoco told the government
17,985,100
18,809,700
25,407,640


For the year 2000, Sunoco reported to the government 396 times more pollution than it told neighbors about; for the year 2001, it was 375 times more. The comparable 2002 figure of 48,819 pounds is about to be released by the U.S. EPA; the total actually released is 520 times that number.

The data below show that in 2002, Sunoco emitted 70% more sulfur dioxide, 176% more carbon monoxide, and 90% more volatile organic compounds than the previous year, 2001. Sunoco increased total emissions by 35% in one year to an average of 69,609 pounds a day.


Sunoco Toledo Refinery emissions in pounds
  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Particulates
934,360
926,740
804,180
926,100
707,100
Sulfur dioxide
10,381,160
11,852,740
9,563,400
10,100,960
17,246,620
Nitrogen oxide
4,981,040
5,529,300
5,317,380
5,659,520
3,536,020
Carbon monoxide
0
754,280
721,700
762,800
2,107,140
Organic compounds
555,580
597,680
986,040
677,900
1,335,960
Volatile organic compounds
0
592,560
980,600
669,560
1,276,180
PM 10
0
686,080
597,840
690,760
534,580
Total
16,852,140
20,939,380
17,985,100
18,809,700
25,407,640


Sources: Emissions data supplied to Toledo Environmental Services by Sunoco. Health information links to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Centers for Disease Control; New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services; National Library of Medicine; and the U.S. EPA.

The original source for all this data is Sunoco itself. Sun executives decided to tell the neighbors who have been breathing these chemicals only about those on the U.S. EPA Toxic Release Inventory list; it omitted toxic chemicals not on that list. The following chemicals were included in the Toxic Release Inventory list for 2002: Toluene, Propylene, Xylene, Benzene, N-Hexane, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, Nickel compounds, Ethylbenzene, Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds, Ethylene, Cyclohexane, Napthalene, Cumene, 1,3 Butadiene, Lead, Benzo(GHI)Perylene.

Sunoco gave the following chart to neighbors --

Sunoco emission chart

The source line underneath the reduced image is too small to read. It says, "Note: This data taken from http://www.scorecard.org/env-releases/facility.tcl?tri_id=43616SNRFN1819W#data_summary, TRI Reported Emissions (EPA)."

Again, Sunoco knew full well that these represented only a small fraction of their emissions, since it sent the full accounting to Toledo Environmental Services.

This was not the end of the story, however. Look at the units on the vertical axis. Instead of starting at zero, it starts at 35,000 pounds. That means that for every year on the chart, the first 35,000 pounds of toxic pollution is missing. And when you get to the later years, it makes it look like the refinery is putting out almost nothing, when in fact, more than 35,000 pounds -- 100 pounds a day -- of dangerous emissions are pouring out.

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Ohio Citizen Action is the state's largest environmental organization, with 100,000 dues-paying members.