Jun 11, 2018

EPA Settles With Oil Refinery Over Bay Water Quality Improvements

The settlement addresses Shell Oil Products hazardous waste contaminating the San Francisco Bay and steps to improve water quality

Shell Oil fined for storm water and water quality pollution
Shell Oil fined for storm water and water quality pollution

The U.S. EPA has reached a settlement with Shell Oil Products over hazardous waste and risk management plan compliance at its crude oil refinery in Martinez, Calif. Shell Oil Products, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, will pay a $142,664 civil penalty and spend an estimated $220,300 to make improvements to its oil processing facility. This action will prevent an estimated 64 tons of hazardous waste from being released to the environment every year and reduce the risk of diesel fuel spills to San Francisco Bay.

Shell Oil has also agreed to spend about $38,000 in support of emergency planning and preparedness in Contra Costa County. Shell Oil will provide the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Programs with equipment to stop leaks from sulfur dioxide containers, personal protective equipment, and handheld particulate meters (including backup batteries and chargers), which are used to monitor air quality.

The Shell Martinez Refinery, located on Pacheco Boulevard about 2 miles east of downtown Martinez and south of the Carquinez Strait, processes about 165,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery also makes asphalt, diesel, jet turbine fuel, petroleum coke, propane, residential fuel oils, and sulfur.

EPA inspected the refinery in November 2014, March 2015, and November 2016 and found:

  • Failure to immediately notify the appropriate federal, state, and local emergency planning and response agencies immediately after an accidental release in December 2013;

  • Failure to determine if waste generated at the refinery was hazardous;

  • Failure to follow proper procedures for managing hazardous waste;

  • Failure to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule requirements, such as using proper containers for fuel storage; and

  • Failure to comply with Risk Management Plan Rule requirements.

Under the terms of the settlement, Shell Oil will upgrade the area where heat exchanger equipment is cleaned to ensure that resulting hazardous materials are properly managed. Shell Oil will also develop and implement a plan for sampling storm water to ensure the water is managed appropriately. Finally, Shell Oil will analyze materials generated from its laboratory activities to ensure that they are managed correctly.

Learn more about the terms of the settlement here.