San Francisco Refinery agrees to Settlement for Discharge Violation

By on August 22, 2020

Phillips 66 Co. has been fined $285,000 by the San Francisco Bay Water Board for discharging more than 5 million gallons of partially treated wastewater from its San Francisco Refinery to San Pablo Bay.

The incident in question occurred Feb. 14, 2019 when a discharge was discovered to exceed the suspended solids load allowed by Phillips 66 Co.’s discharge permit.

The settlement requires the refinery to pay $142,500 to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account and $142,500 on a supplemental environmental project to study how sediment moves through San Francisco Bay.

“This enforcement action deters the refinery from committing similar violations and sends the message that all petroleum refineries in the region need to manage their treatment systems properly and prepare for the inevitable storms we see from time to time,” said Thomas Mumley, assistant executive officer for the San Francisco Bay Water Board.

According to the state board, the violation might have been avoided had the refinery restored an onsite storage tank to service in a timely manner. Instead, when a series of big consecutive storms increased flows through the treatment process, the refinery could not store enough wastewater for later treatment and had to bypass the part of its treatment system that filters out suspended solids. The refinery returned the storage tank to service in January 2020.

The San Francisco Bay Water Board is a state agency that regulates wastewater treatment and discharge facilities, such as those at petroleum refineries. The mission of the San Francisco Bay Water Board is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources for the protection of the environment, public health and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations.