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Oil Refinery Numbers Show Air Pollution is Up

December 20, 2010

ABERDEEN, S.D. - A oil refinery proposed by Hyperion Resources for Union County in southeastern South Dakota would release almost twice the amount of the greenhouse gas methane as was originally specified in its air quality permit application. Documents submitted to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources show anticipated yearly emissions have been revised upward, from 498 tons per year to 979 tons.

Pete Carrels with the South Dakota Sierra Club, says it's a concern, but not much of a surprise.

"I don't think we should be surprised anymore at the continued series of mistakes we are discovering in regard to the air permit issued by South Dakota."

Hyperion says the methane emissions were changed because the application missed a step in the refining process. The State of South Dakota issued an air quality permit last August for the facility, but it is being challenged by the Sierra Club and two local groups in Union County. Carrels says they have seen problems throughout the application process.

"The Sierra Club and others originally challenged the adequacy of that air permit. The federal Environmental Protection Agency pointed out a number of serious flaws. It's becoming quite clear that our concerns and worries are warranted."

Hyperion officials have said they expect the permit to be issued next year, when they plan to begin construction of the $10 billion project. They say about 3,500 people will be involved in the construction, with 1,600 full-time jobs during operation.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD