In dirty Delaware

The Wilmington News Journal's hardworking veteran Dover reporter Jeff Montgomery yesterday reported two scary pollution settlements - or, rather, the latest steps toward trying to control dangerous pollution from oil and steel producers on the banks of the Delaware without driving them out of business, so they can keep employing people and paying taxes.

1) "Delaware and Evraz Claymont Steel announced a new and sweeping agreement today on pollution control upgrades to the specialty plate-making factory, long under fire for raining soot and slag-metal dust on its neighbors... The [Russian-owned] plant along Philadelphia Pike near the Pennsylvania line will have three years to complete installation of new emissions control systems and relocate portions of its slag-handling operation...

"[Delaware] also ordered the company to continue mercury-monitoring programs launched in 2005, after a discovery that mercury-laden switches from automobile scrap metal had turned the plant’s smokestack into one of the nation’s larger emissions sources for the toxic metal."

2) "Delaware has fined Valero Energy $1.95 million for nearly 200 pollution violations over the past decade at the Delaware City Refinery.

"State regulators quietly agreed to the settlement -- among the largest cash-only environmental penalties levied by Delaware in recent memory -- on May 28, days before Valero sold the refinery to [Connecticut-based PBF Energy Partners on June 1 in a state-assisted deal to reopen the shuttered plant]. Officials of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control only released the penalty on Monday in response to a reporter's inquiry.

"Covered were a wide range of air and water violations... Although the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control routinely publicizes penalties and regularly posts even littering charges on its website, agency officials said the refinery pact was quickly overshadowed by other events.

"It wasn't by design," DNREC Deputy Secretary David Small said. "It was a matter of 'Let's get this done...'"