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SALT LAKE CITY — The addition of a black and yellow waxy crude processing facility at Tesoro's Salt Lake City refinery will result in unacceptable public health risks and should not be allowed, according a lawsuit filed this week.
The challenge lodged Monday by multiple groups appeals a decision by the Utah Division of Air Quality to grant a permit modification for the project.
Western Resource Advocates, representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, wants the Utah Court of Appeals to review the decision, which they assert was not accompanied by a proper analysis.
"There is technology to control pollution from refineries and limits to operations that better protect public health," said Joro Walker, senior attorney and Utah director at Western Resource Advocates. "Utah should not have approved Tesoro's current plans increasing air pollution. I look forward to a legal ruling that forces Utah to protect public health."
Walker said the groups want the division to do a more thorough analysis of the available air pollution controls and impose more stringent short-term emission limits on the refinery.
There is technology to control pollution from refineries and limits to operations that better protect public health. Utah should not have approved Tesoro's current plans increasing air pollution. I look forward to a legal ruling that forces Utah to protect public health.
–Joro Walker, attorney
The division, according to information on its website, said the Tesoro project — considered minor — is consistent with state air quality standards.
While it will result in an emissions increase, the increase is not significant and Tesoro remains within pollution limits set by its permit, according to the division.
The case contends that the permit approving the project will add pollution to an area already out of compliance with federal Clean Air standards and struggling with a pollution problem.
"If ever there were a case where we need our state to step up and protect public health, this is it," said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.