BP to pay $106K for infractions
Oregon refinery cited for air pollution
By Tom Henry
BP Products North America has agreed to pay the state
$106,000 to settle four violations of air pollution laws
at the company’s refinery on Cedar Point Road in Oregon.
One of the violations requires the company to install
a newly designed seal system on a compressor unit before
The existing seals leak. Records show the refinery has
had problems with them for months, resulting in excess
releases of airborne chemicals classified by state officials
as volatile organic compounds. Efforts to repair the seals
have failed, Dina Pierce, Ohio Environmental Protection
Agency spokesman, said.
The Ohio EPA will continue to have Toledo’s Department
of Environmental Services act as its agent and monitor
emissions closely while the plant is upgraded with the
new equipment. The agency has reserved the right to issue
a shutdown order if the discharges rise to the point of
causing "imminent and substantial danger to [human]
health and the environment," Ms. Pierce said.
The agency’s enforcement order shows that state environmental
regulators are willing to let BP temporarily continue
to surpass discharge limits by releasing up to 1.6 tons
of volatile organic compound vapors into the atmosphere
from November, 2003, through October, 2004. The projected
discharge is based on the anticipated performance of existing
seals, the Ohio EPA said.
BP spokesman Mary Caprella said the corporation acknowledges
its responsibility to keep the refinery’s emissions under
Several improvements will be made to help the aging facility
operate cleaner in the future, she said.
"We’re comfortable with the settlement," Ms.
Two other violations stem from an incident on Dec. 5,
2002, when a malfunction at a fluidized catalytic cracking
unit triggered a chain of events that led to sooty particles
falling from the sky and tons of additional sulfur dioxide
getting into the atmosphere.
The malfunction caused oily material to enter a boiler.
The boiler discharged sooty material into the sky for
an hour. Soot fell on nearby snow, homes, cars, and other
property, the Ohio EPA said.
In order to correct the problem, BP shut down the malfunctioning
unit. But it kept a gas recovery system from removing
sulfur from gas streams.
Gas from a coke unit was subsequently routed to a flare
for combustion without sulfur being removed, resulting
in excessive sulfur dioxide emissions for nearly a month,
the Ohio EPA said.
The agency estimated as much as 6.2 tons of sulfur dioxide
were emitted from the flare between Dec. 5, 2002, and
Jan. 3, 2003. Normally, none would be discharged, the
Ohio EPA said
Sulfur dioxide is one of six major classes of air pollution
the U.S. EPA regulates.
Sulfur dioxide forms acid rain in the atmosphere, an
acidic pollutant that can float for miles.
Great Lakes biologists long have pushed for sulfur dioxide
reductions - especially from heavy industrial states such
as Ohio - because acid rain imperils forests, waterways,
lakes, and fish as its falls from the sky as rain.
Another violation focused on a pair of instances in which
BP’s gasoline loading rack was cited for exceeding its
daily limit for dispensing aviation fuel without vapor
controls. The regulatory threshold is 20,000 gallons a
day when there are no such controls.
On Jan. 11, 2002, the refinery loaded 20,760 gallons.
On March 9, 2002, it loaded 25,000 gallons. The Ohio
EPA said it might require BP to install a vapor collection
system if additional violations occur.