Chile regulator eyes refinery sanction over environmental failures

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 14, 2017 3:43 PM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator, the SMA, said on Tuesday that it was considering sanctions of state-run energy producer ENAP[ENAP.UL] after finding infractions relating to emissions and noise at its Aconcagua oil refinery.

The SMA said it had found 17 infractions, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide over the allowed limit, and unacceptable noise levels during both day and night.

The company said in a statement that it would present an action plan within the timeframe required by the regulator.

"We have been working to diminish the existing breaches," said Aconcagua manager Patricio Farfan.

"Various projects and investments have been developed that seek to improve operational and environmental standards at the refinery."

Planned improvements included a $60 million project to reduce particle emissions, expected by 2022, and the replacement or covering of noisy valves, it said.

Chile's environmental regulators have cracked down harder on resources companies in recent years, following a wave of local activism, and many companies have been increasing their efforts to operate more harmoniously with local communities.

Chile has two main oil refineries, both run by ENAP - Aconcagua, in central Chile, and Bio Bio, in the south.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Bill Rigby)