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Valero Refining fined $1.2 million and ordered to improve process safety

11 April 2023

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a settlement with Valero Refining-California to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act's Chemical Accident Prevention regulations at the Benicia Refinery near San Francisco, California. The company will pay a $1,224,550 (£965,000) fine and make changes to improve process safety at the refinery.

Image: Wikimedia/User: Downtowngal
Image: Wikimedia/User: Downtowngal

After significant chemical incidents at the Benicia Refinery in 2017 and 2019, an EPA inspection at the facility identified several areas of non-compliance, including that Valero failed to immediately report releases of hazardous substances, update certain process safety information, adequately analyse certain process hazards, and develop and implement certain written operating procedures.

Under the terms of the settlement, Valero has agreed to make significant chemical safety improvements at the Benicia Refinery. The company has already made several of these changes, related to chemical safety, in response to EPA’s inspection. These improvements include updating and modifying process hazard analyses, modifying operating procedures, modifying reporting policies, and improving employee training. The settlement also requires Valero to modify several pressure-relief valves and update process hazard analyses to consider hazards of power loss at the facility. As part of the settlement, Valero will continue to implement safety improvements through June 2025.

“This settlement sends a clear message that EPA will prosecute companies that fail to expend the resources needed to have a compliant, well-functioning Risk Management Plan to the fullest extent of the law,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

“Failure to properly manage hazardous materials can pose serious risks to our California communities,” said Martha Guzman, Regional Administrator of EPA Region 9. “This settlement will help protect Valero workers, the Benicia community, and the environment more broadly.”

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