DTSC considering Shell’s RCRA permit renewal

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is considering the Shell Martinez Refinery’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit renewal application that would delay closure of a hazardous waste management unit so Pond 7 could be used for non-hazardous wastewater treatment.

The permit renewal application was submitted April 20, according to a statement released by DTSC. It does not propose adding any new waste management units, nor does it request increasing waste volumes in the current permitted hazardous waste treatment unit, the DTSC announcement said.

According to the application, the RCRA-permitted hazardous waste unit at the refinery is an effluent treatment plant (ETP-1) biotreater, a 3.8 million gallon, 1.4-acre surface impoundment that is used to process wastewater that comes from refinery operations.

The wastewater previously processed in the biotreater contained levels of benzene above the RCRA hazardous waste limits, the application states. However, regulatory changes in the 1990s precluded the continued use of the biotreater in handling hazardous waste, it said.

So a new effluent treatment plant (ETP-2) was built and permitted under permit-by-rule, and the benzene-laden wastewater was diverted from the original plant to the new one, the application said. The water entering the original ETP-1 biotreater is described as “no longer characteristically hazardous due to benzene concentration.”

DTSC originally granted a delay of closure in 2003 for the ETP-1 biotreater after the refinery explained it couldn’t operate without it because there isn’t enough capacity in the the ETP-2 and ETP-3 biotreater systems to treat all the hazardous and non-hazardous process wastewater and storm water generated at the refinery.

The refinery sent its RCRA Part B permit renewal application for Pond 7 Nov. 17, 2017, but DTSC determined that application was “administratively incomplete.”

The April 20 application for the RCRA Part B permit included revised pages, according to DTSC documents.

Then on May 21, the DTSC received related California Environmental Quality Act information required by the California Code of Regulations for the Part B permit application. After a review of the various revised documents, the DTSC determined the application is administratively complete.

“DTSC is reviewing the application to ensure the operations meet technical and regulatory requirements and are protective of human health and the environment,” the statement said.

The Department will be determining later whether reauthorizing the delay of closure is justified. If it agrees with the refinery, it would issuea renewal permit that would allow continued operation of Pond 7 to accept and treat non-hazardous city waste and to delay closure of the unit under hazardous waste management regulations for a 10-year period.

The DTSC statement described the refinery, at 3485 Pacheco Blvd., as a petroleum refinery owned and operated by Equilon Enterprises LLC that manufactures gasoline, intermediate fuels such as jet, diesel and kerosene, industrial fuels and liquefied petroleum gas.

Copies of the application are available for viewing by the public at two sites, including the Martinez Public Library, 740 Court St., where it can be seen by request by calling 925-646-9900.

The other site, for which an appointment is required, is DTSC Berkeley Regional Office File Room, 700 Heinz Ave., Berkeley. Those interested must call 510-540-3799 to make the appointment.

Site-related information also is available online at https://www.envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov/public/hwmp_profile_report?global_id=CAD009164021.

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