SEATTLE - The company that operates the Anacortes oil refinery will pay a $191,000 fine for violations of the Clean Air Act stemming from a 2015 release of toxic vapors that sickened dozens of local residents of the area.
The fine, part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, is in addition to previous fines of over $420,000 levied by the Northwest Clean Air Agency and the Washington Safety and Health Agency against Shell Oil Products U.S. over the incident.
According to the EPA, Shell employees at the refinery deviated from the facility’s operating procedures which resulted in the release of about 700 pounds of toxic vapors.
The un-combusted air pollutants included toxic hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, mercaptans, pyrophoric iron, and benzene over a period of about 3 1/2 hours on Feb. 20, 2015.
In the stagnant weather conditions, the vapors did not disperse and caused strong odors to reach the Swinomish Indian Reservation, the city of La Conner and other nearby areas. More than 550 people in these areas were impacted by the release, some of whom sought medical attention.
During an inspection following the release, EPA identified several violations of the Clean Air Act. Shell has since corrected the violations.