EPA finds Clean Air Act Violations at crude oil terminal

May 7, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently cited a Kern County, California crude by rail terminal with a series of environmental violations.

The EPA announced via public notice that the Plains All American Pipeline LP's Bakersfield crude by rail terminal was found to be violating the Clean Air Act. The facility's owner allegedly failed to obtain a valid emissions permit, install advanced control technologies or provide emissions offsets as required by the local air pollution control district. 

The Bakersfield terminal has been in operation since November 2014. It currently receives one 100-car unit train per day. The train carries oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and heavier tar oil sands from Western Canada. 

While the EPA has not ordered the Bakersfield terminal to cease operations, the fines associated with its violations will continue to accrue for as long as it operates under current conditions. 

Plains All American Pipeline LP's spokesperson Brad Leone told Reuters that the company would not comment until the EPA sends an official notice of the violations. 

Environmental groups are pleased with the EPA's response, following concerns that the environmental review conducted of the facility by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District was not comprehensive. 

"The EPA stepped in to protect California from this crude-by-rail facility's dangerous air pollution," said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Federal intervention is urgently needed because the air district and Kern County officials have utterly failed to safeguard public health and the environment."

The number of crude-carrying trains entering California has seen a significant increase over the past few years, prompting a number of safety and environmental concerns. Environmental consultants can work with crude by rail terminals to ensure adherence to all state and federal regulations.