Valero to pay $122K settlement for air quality violations

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires) -- The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced Thursday it has settled a case with the Valero Refining Company for air quality violations at its Benicia refinery.

Valero has agreed to pay a $122,500 civil penalty for the violations, according to the air district.

The settlement covers violation notices that the air district issued to Valero for a number of incidents in 2011, district officials said.

The incidents include one notice for a public nuisance caused by odors from operations at the refinery wastewater treatment plant. Valero also garnered 14 notices for brief violations of emission limits, as measured by monitors on refinery equipment, according to the air district.

Minor leaks from pentane or butane tanks and minor administrative violations also resulted in violation notices that year, air district officials said.

"Bay Area refineries must operate within strict federal, state and local air quality regulations that protect air quality and public health," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said.

"Violations of air quality regulations, no matter how minor, must be addressed and refineries held accountable," Broadbent said.

The air district issues notices of violation to inform facilities that they have violated a specific air quality regulation or rule, district officials said.

Violators are generally required to respond to the notice within 10 days and must submit a description of the actions they will take to correct the problem. These actions can include shutting down operations immediately, or changing operations or equipment to come into compliance, district officials said.

All settlement funds received will be used to fund air district activities, such as the inspection and enforcement activities that led to this settlement, according to air district officials.