The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint against the Tesoro Maarch Point refinery for alleged violations of federal chemical accident prevention and emergency planning rules.
The violations were discovered during two EPA facility inspections in 2011.
According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle, refineries have a special obligation to their workforce and local community to do everything possible to maintain impeccable operational safety.
“There’s no room for error when you’re processing this volume and mix of chemicals,” said Kowalski. “Petroleum refiners and their workers must understand and carefully follow regulations designed to protect people, our communities and our environment from potentially catastrophic accidents.”
Tesoro Corporation operates six refineries in five western states & Alaska with a combined capacity of 875,000 barrels per day. Tesoro’s Anacortes refinery has a total crude-oil capacity of 120,000 barrels per day. The refinery primarily supplies gasoline, jet fuel and diesel to markets in Washington and Oregon, and manufactures heavy fuel oils, liquefied petroleum gas and asphalt. There are 350 employees working onsite.
Eight separate processes at Tesoro’s Anacortes facility are covered under EPA’s Risk Management Program -- part of the Clean Air Act -- which focuses on training, operational maintenance and safety planning. The individual alleged violations appear in EPA’s complaint. The complaint carries a proposed $718,361 penalty.
Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle greater than a threshold amount of a regulated substance(s) to develop a “Risk Management Program” and submit Risk Management Plans.
Tesoro’s Anacortes facility handles thousands of pounds of chemicals, such as isobutane, pentane, and hydrogen every day. The refining process combines these chemicals into a flammable mix that can cause catastrophic harm to workers, the environment and surrounding communities if Risk Management Planning requirements aren’t closely followed.
Specific items required by the Risk Management Program include: development of an emergency response or action plan; hazard evaluation of a “worst case” and “more probable case” chemical release; operator training; review of the hazards associated with using toxic or flammable substances; and operating procedures and equipment maintenance.