The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice have announced a settlement with Kern Oil & Refining Co. over alleged reporting violations.
The EPA said Kern Oil will pay a $500,000 penalty for failures to comply with the Clean Air Act’s flare emissions monitoring and leak inspection reporting requirements, as well as toxic chemical release reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The department said Kern Oil will spend $200,000 in addressing the violations.
“This settlement requires Kern Oil to comply with the Clean Air Act and reinforces the monitoring and reporting requirements,” said McGregor W. Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is proud to work with EPA to protect the quality of the air in the Central Valley.”
According to the EPA, Kern Oil failed to monitor and report sulfur dioxide emissions from flaring, a process in which gas is burned in a controlled manner during oil extraction.
In addition, the department says the company also failed to report volatile organic compounds that have been leaking from equipment such as valves, pumps, compressors and wastewater drains.
Under the EPCRA, facilities that manufacture, process, or use toxic chemicals over certain amounts are required to file annual reports estimating how much of these chemicals have been released into the environment, treated or recycled on-site or transferred off-site for waste management.
The EPA said Kern Oil has already installed a required flare monitor and has begun submitting required monitoring and inspection reports.
“The settlement will benefit communities near the Bakersfield refinery by ensuring that Kern Oil meets its flare monitoring and leak reporting obligations and supporting projects that provide for enhanced monitoring and new emergency response equipment for use by first responders,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.