By Audra Streetman

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Suncor Energy on Monday announced the findings of an independent, third-party investigation into emissions at its Commerce City refinery. The investigation led by Kearney was part of a $9 million settlement agreement between Suncor and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to resolve more than 100 pollution violations.

Suncor March 2020 (credit: CBS)

The final report concluded that the Commerce City Refinery is adequately funded and designed to meet environmental permits during steady-state operations. Suncor released an improvement plan on Monday that includes additional upgrades to its automatic shutdown systems for gasoline making units. Officials say these upgrades will significantly reduce the potential for catalyst releases.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Commerce City Plans To Sue Suncor For Allegedly Contaminating Drinking Water Supply

(credit: CBS)

“We are continuing on a journey to improve our performance and communications so that we can begin to regain the community’s trust. As a part of our 2020 settlement agreement with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, we heard our neighbor’s input, and we learned a lot about their need for us to provide more timely, transparent and accessible information,” said Donald Austin, Commerce City Refinery Vice President. “We also heard their need for us to do better at explaining our operations and the improvements we’re making to minimize our environmental impact and ensure the safety of our people and the community.”

READ MORE: ‘Historic’ $9 Million Fine Issued Against Suncor Energy Refinery In Commerce City

In 2020, Suncor upgraded the automatic shutdown system in Plant 2. Officials plan to upgrade the same system in Plant 1 by the end of June. The company also plans to have a Programmable Logic Controller as well as upgraded instrumentation, automated shutdown valves and new hydraulic pressure units by 2023 to make the shutdown process more reliable.

The total cost to implement the improvements is $12 million, which exceeds the initial $5 million commitment from Suncor as part of the settlement with the state. Officials say upgrades to Plant 2 alone will cost $10 million.

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To read more about the investigation and Suncor’s improvement plan, click here.

Audra Streetman