An official website of the United States government.

News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA requires Bay Area refinery to improve waste management, pay penalty

Company also to support emergency response efforts in Contra Costa County

Contact Information: 
Michele Huitric (

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Shell Oil Products over hazardous waste and risk management plan compliance at its crude oil refinery in Martinez, Calif. Shell Oil Products, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, will pay a $142,664 civil penalty and spend an estimated $220,300 to make improvements to its oil processing facility.

This action will prevent an estimated 64 tons of hazardous waste from being released to the environment every year and reduce the risk of diesel fuel spills to San Francisco Bay.

“Today’s order requires Shell Oil to make necessary enhancements to comply with federal laws and protect public health and our natural resources,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.

Shell Oil has also agreed to spend about $38,000 in support of emergency planning and preparedness in Contra Costa County. Shell Oil will provide the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Programs with equipment to stop leaks from sulfur dioxide containers, personal protective equipment, and handheld particulate meters (including backup batteries and chargers), which are used to monitor air quality.

The Shell Martinez Refinery, located on Pacheco Boulevard about 2 miles east of downtown Martinez and south of the Carquinez Strait, processes about 165,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery also makes asphalt, diesel, jet turbine fuel, petroleum coke, propane, residential fuel oils, and sulfur.

EPA inspected the refinery in November 2014, March 2015, and November 2016 and found:

  • Failure to immediately notify the appropriate federal, state, and local emergency planning and response agencies immediately after an accidental release in December 2013;
  • Failure to determine if waste generated at the refinery was hazardous;
  • Failure to follow proper procedures for managing hazardous waste;
  • Failure to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule requirements, such as using proper containers for fuel storage; and
  • Failure to comply with Risk Management Plan Rule requirements, such as accurately reporting an accidental release worst-case scenario. When properly implemented, risk management plans and their associated program elements help prevent and control chemical releases at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances or flammable chemicals. These plans are also used by EPA and other emergency responders to assess chemical risks to nearby communities and prepare for emergency responses.

Under the terms of the settlement, Shell Oil will upgrade the area where heat exchanger equipment is cleaned to ensure that resulting hazardous materials are properly managed. Shell Oil will also develop and implement a plan for sampling stormwater to ensure the water is managed appropriately. Finally, Shell Oil will analyze materials generated from its laboratory activities to ensure that they are managed correctly.

Learn more about the terms of the settlement:

Learn more about EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance:

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.