EPA fines Par Hawaii refining facilities over chemical safety, hazardous waste violations in West Oahu


On February 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced settlements with Par Hawaii Refining, LLC, over violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at its oil refining facilities on Komohana Street and Malakole Street in Kapolei.

Par Hawaii will carry out changes to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at the Malakole Street facility and conduct sampling at the Komohana Street facility to determine whether improper management of hazardous wastes contaminated local soil. Par Hawaii will also pay a combined $219,638 civil penalty.

“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. “Companies that do not comply with federal requirements will face significant fines.”

Clean Air Act violations at the Malakole Street facility

In March 2019, EPA inspectors found violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements under the facility’s Risk Management Plans (RMPs). These included process safety errors, such as incorrect maximum inventories for some crude unit vessels and inaccurate piping and machine diagrams. EPA also found operating procedures that were unclear and not current, such as an outdated emergency shutdown operating procedure in the control room.

When properly implemented, an RMP may help prevent chemical releases and minimize impacts to public health and the environment at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances and flammable chemicals. Under federal law, the facility’s RMP must be up to date and resubmitted at least once every five years. RMPs are used by EPA to assess chemical risks to surrounding communities and to prepare for emergency responses.

Hazardous waste management investigation at the Komohana Street facility

A September 2018 EPA inspection found the Komohana Street facility improperly managed hazardous waste from its refinery processes. EPA inspectors 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. The settlement requires Par Hawaii to develop and implement a sampling plan to determine the possibility of localized hazardous waste contamination on-site.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency