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Anacortes refinery pays $325,000 fine for Clean Air Act violations

FILE - This April 2, 2010 file photo shows a Tesoro Corp. refinery, including a gas flare flame that is part of normal plant operations, in Anacortes, Wash.
FILE - This April 2, 2010 file photo shows a Tesoro Corp. refinery, including a gas flare flame that is part of normal plant operations, in Anacortes, Wash. AP

The Tesoro Anacortes Refinery has paid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $325,000 in late 2016 for violating the Clean Air Act.

The fine is one of several the refinery has faced for state and federal environmental violations in recent years. The EPA notified the refinery of the violations in April 2016, and issued the penalty in September.

According to EPA documents regarding the Clean Air Act violations, the agency discovered several shortfalls in the refinery’s risk management plan following inspections at the March Point facility in January 2011 and October 2011.

Tesoro spokesman Matt Gill said the refinery disputes the EPA’s findings that resulted in the fine.

“While we have agreed to settle these allegations ... this is not an admission that the allegations were true or correct,” Gill said.

The March Point refinery is required to submit risk management plans to the EPA because of the amount of hazardous chemicals it handles.

“If a facility has an inadequate or poor risk management plan in place, this could possibly lead to a catastrophic chemical release and harm the communities surrounding the facility,” EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Skadowski said.

It also can put first responders at risk if they respond to an emergency at a site without being fully aware of the chemical hazards, she said.

The violations included concerns that the refinery did not provide adequate safety information about dangerous temperatures, according to EPA records.

High chemical temperatures and inadequate maintenance of equipment were factors in the 2010 explosion at the refinery that killed seven workers, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and state Department of Labor & Industries.

Tesoro has disputed those findings and appealed 44 violations and $2 million in fines Labor & Industries issued as a result of the explosion. State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals Judge Mark Jaffee overturned 33 of the violations.

Jaffee expects to make a decision on the remaining violations by the end of February, Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals spokeswoman Jay Raish said.

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