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EPA fines Kapolei refinery nearly $220K for chemical safety, hazardous waste violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today that Par Hawaii Refining LLC has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $219,638 for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act at its oil refining facilities in Kapolei.

Par Hawaii has also agreed to implement changes to reduce the risk of further chemical accidents at the Malakole Street facility, as well as conduct sampling at the Komohana Street facility to determine whether improper management of hazardous wastes contaminated local soil.

“As an energy company and critical part of Hawaii’s energy infrastructure, we strive to conduct business in a safe and environmentally protective manner,” said Peter Boylan, Director of Government & Public Affairs for Par Hawaii, LLC in a statement. “We are pleased to have resolved the EPA’s concerns regarding certain alleged documentation deficiencies at our Par West Refinery, as well as the alleged release at our Par East Refinery, and refer (readers) to the respective Consent Agreements for further details. While we disagree with the EPA’s assertions, these two settlements resolve this matter for the benefit of all parties, and we look forward to continuing our support of the state’s transition to its clean energy goals.”

In September 2018, EPA inspectors found that the Komohana Street facility improperly managed hazardous waste from its refinery processes and documented an oily residue being released onto an unlined asphalt pad and into nearby soil. The contaminants of concern included hexavalent chromium and benzene, which can escape into the environment and groundwater through improper waste management practices.

As part of the settlement, Par Hawaii is required to implement a sampling plan to determine the possibility of localized hazardous waste contamination on-site.

“We are acting to ensure that oil refining facilities reduce the risk of releases of toxic substances, and properly store, manage and dispose of hazardous wastes to protect local communities and the environment,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Amy Miller in a news release. “Companies that do not comply with federal requirements will face significant fines.”

In March 2019, inspectors also found violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements under the Malakole Street facility’s risk management plans. These included incorrect maximum inventories for some crude unit vessels, along with inaccurate piping and machine diagrams, considered process safety errors.

Additionally, EPA found operating procedures that were unclear, along with an outdated emergency shutdown operating procedure in the control room.

On its website, Par Hawaii Refining LLC describes itself as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texas-based Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. Its Par Hawaii Inc. markets fuels through Hele- and 76-branded retail locations throughout Hawaii, and distributes fuels via pipelines on Oahu and on barges to all major harbors in the state.

Par Hawaii Refining, LLC also says it operates the only petroleum refinery in the state.

Under federal law, a facility’s risk management plan must be up-to-date and resubmitted at least once every five years.

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