Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Valero petroleum refinery in Benicia
"Valero to pay fine for air quality violations"
2013-10-22 by Peter Fimrite from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Valero-to-pay-fine-for-air-quality-violations-4917926.php]:
The Valero Refining Co. has agreed to pay more than $300,000 for repeated air quality violations, including gas leaks, over the past few years, regulators announced Tuesday.
The company will pay $300,300 in civil penalties for 33 violations in 2011 and 2012 at its petroleum refinery in Benicia, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
The violations mostly involved late reporting and lack of data, but there were also emissions excesses and leaks, air quality officials said. They said none of the problems caused a significant threat to public health.
"This penalty against Valero serves as a reminder to the industry to be more vigilant in daily maintenance and operations," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.
Representatives of Valero acknowledged the penalty in a brief statement: "These settlement fees are related to compliance issues that Valero self-reported to the District in 2011 and 2012 and subsequently resolved," said Sue Fisher Jones, the Valero spokeswoman.
Valero was named by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year as one of California's top distributors of dangerous substances. It was second to the ConocoPhillips refinery in Rodeo as the most profligate disseminator of poisons in the Bay Area, releasing 504,472 pounds of toxic substances into the air, water or ground. It was the 10th biggest source of chemicals and pollutants in the state, according to the report released in January.
Almost half of the violations cited by the air quality district between 2011 and 2012 involved excessive short-term emissions and valve leaks on tanks.
The rest of the violations had to do with missing data on a valves and connectors database and late samples from gas flares, which are required every three hours by air district regulation. Valero had to take the flare samples manually after its automated system failed to provide samples that were suitable for analysis, regulators said.
The settlement money will be used for air quality district inspection and enforcement operations and activities, according to district officials.