The violations — 58 in all — were racked up by former oil company Tesoro when it managed the Martinez refinery over a four-year period that began in 2014. Marathon acquired Tesoro in 2018 and last year announced it would idle the refinery and lay off more than 700 employees there.
During the 55-day flaring event in 2014, the refinery emitted large amounts of pollutants. Tesoro’s other violations included allowing a vapor leak, which also led to excess pollution, failing to meet permit requirements and neglecting to monitor refinery equipment.
The settlement comes just months after the Bay Area Air Quality Management District approved new rules that will require a refinery in Martinez owned by PBF Energy and a Chevron refinery in Richmond to dramatically reduce the pollutants they emit.
Air pollution emitted by oil refineries in Contra Costa County has been shown to cause illness and premature deaths in residents who live nearby.
“Bay Area residents expect and deserve to breathe clean air,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a written statement about the Tesoro settlement, which totals $2,227,000.
“This settlement illustrates the Air District’s commitment to enforcing air quality regulations and ensuring that refineries continue to follow all state, local and federal permit conditions to protect the health of our communities,” Broadbent added.
In 2014, Tesoro agreed to pay $472,000 in civil penalties as part of another settlement with the air quality district, that time for 35 violations issued between 2009 and 2011.
All but three of the violations in this latest settlement occurred before Tesoro was acquired by Marathon. In an email, Marathon spokesman Jamal Kheiry said the company voluntarily addressed the refinery conditions that led to all those violations.
Kheiry added in an email that Marathon is “pleased” to reach a settlement with the air quality district.
The idled Golden Eagle Refinery is now being converted to a facility that produces renewable fuels, which create a lower carbon footprint than petroleum diesel. Marathon is in the permitting stage of that transition, and Kheiry said the company hopes it can begin its new production model next year.
Read More: Martinez oil refinery’s owners settle air quality violations