Shell, Air District reach $165,000 settlement of ‘noncompliance’

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Shell Oil Products and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have reached a $165,000 settlement concerning 16 instances of regulation noncompliance that happened between October 2015 and 2016, the air district has announced.

Fifteen notices were sent during that time period about the violations, which both the refinery and the District said were corrected soon after they were discovered.

Four of the violations are related to a December 2016 incident that has been attributed to operator error, the District’s announcement said.

While the situation was corrected within a few minutes, it resulted in a call for a shelter in place and involved one sulfur dioxide emission and three incidents of opacity that exceeded regulations, the statement said.

Other notices the District sent to the company involved an overdue check for emission leaks of a vessel cargo tank, broken tank seals on an organic liquid storage tank and incidents of exceeding opacity and hydrogen sulfide limits.

“Bay Area refineries are subject to stringent national, state and local air quality regulations which are enforced by the Air District,” said Jack Broadbent, the District’s executive officer.

“Dedicated air quality inspectors do regular inspections to help ensure that violations are corrected quickly and air quality is protected,” he said.

The District issues notices of violation when facilities violate a specific air quality regulation or rule. Violators are required to respond to the notice within ten days and submit a description of the actions they will take to correct the problem,” the statement said. “These actions can include shutting down certain operations immediately or changing operations or equipment to come into compliance.”

Ann Notarangelo, Shell Martinez Refinery’s external relations manager, provided a response from her company.

The settlement represents an agreement between Shell and the District, the statement said.

“Shell respects the agencies that regulate the refinery, and we are committed to following the regulations set by those agencies,” the reply said. “The citations pertain to non-compliances of permit requirements.”

The statement noted that the incidents did not cause significant impacts either to people or the environment, but said the company takes them seriously and aims to prevent them from happening in the future.

“In every instance Shell evaluated for corrective action and preventative action, and implemented changes,’ the statement said.

The reply acknowledged that Shell Oil Products U.S. Martinez Refinery entered into a settlement agreement with the District in the amount of $165,000 for the issued in 2015 and 2016.

“The violations were all self-reported by Shell to the District and were immediately addressed by workers at the facility to return to compliance with District regulations,” the refinery’s statement said.

“The Bay Area is home to some of the strictest air quality standards in the world, and those are standards we embrace.” Notarangelo said. “When we fall short of them, we want to immediately report and correct. We are grateful to our employees who work diligently to help us do that.”

The money generated by the settlement fund will be used to underwrite such Air District activities as inspection and enforcement activities, including the types that led to this settlement, the statement said.

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