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Release Date: 5/8/1997
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

     (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that Union Oil Co. of California will pay $375,000 in penalties for failing to notify federal and state authorities about releases of hazardous substances from its Refinery in Rodeo, Calif. almost three years ago.

     "Releases of hazardous substances pose serious public health and environmental risks, and people need to know immediately if they are in danger," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's Superfund Division director.

     The penalty was levied in a settlement reached with Unocal. Unocal was cited for violations associated with the release of diethanolamine in August and September 1994.  During the incident about 200,000 pounds of a substance called catacarb, which contained approximately 10,000 pounds of diethanolamine, was released into the air.

     The chemicals were released through a hole in a refinery tower. Unocal was cited for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) and for failure to provide an appropriate written follow-up report to the state Emergency Response Commission (SERC), violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLCA).

     Unocal was also cited for notification violations associated with the release of nearly 200 pounds of hydrogen sulfide in September 1994.

     Immediate notification is essential in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure and minimize consequences. Timely notification also ensures that agencies, local citizens and health care providers have sufficient information to make informed decisions about protecting the community and the environment before, during, and after a hazardous substance release.
     Further information about EPCRA, CERCLA, and hazardous substance release notification requirements may be obtained by calling the U.S. EPA's toll-free hotline at(800)535-0202.

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