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State orders cleanup at polluted Bakersfield refinery

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Charles Randall 15 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #3961


    Associated Press – August 28, 2007 3:44 PM ET
    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) – State regulators will force a polluted refinery’s owners to clean up decades worth of contaminated soil and groundwater lying beneath the facility.
    The Big West Oil of California refinery in Bakersfield was partially shut down in June after releasing more than 1,000 barrels of oil from an underground pipeline.
    Last week, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a formal order requiring the refinery’s current and past owners to clean up the toxic mess, some of which dates to the mid-1980s.

  • #7306

    Charles Randall

    Here is update on Big West Bakersfield coking refinery & good example of what is wrong with California (& US) approach to refining industry. They hounded Shell Environmentally until it was forced to shut down the small (65 MBD) +100 year old refinery instead of offering incentives. 
    But once Shell made the decision (Mar 2005) to close Bakersfield because it was not profitable – officials were afraid it would impact gasoline prices (already in distress trying meet demand & California’s over the top environmental regulations on sulfur, MTBE & other specs) and they prevented its closing.  Bakersfield was finally sold to independent refinery Big West (their first refinery with a coker).
    You cannot put a new heart in Grandpa and throw him back into a marathon and expect him to keep up – same is true trying to keep a 100 year old refinery operating & patched up.  If you won’t let them close because of demand and strategic reasons there have to be allowances or incentives for replacement….. or at least a fair shot at permitting a new one.  Since we haven’t had a new refinery in 25 years we know the game is rigged, and the 2 new Greenfield refineries (in states without ANY refineries – US now has 13 states that boat living by pipelines) trying to get permits have been at it for 2 years now even though everyone but the same sad environmental crowd, are for them.
    Big Oil needs to grow a backbone debunk the Environmentalist, EPA and insist the state & federal tax regulations provide an incentive to shut down 50 to 100 year old refineries and build new world scale ones in their place – because that is what happens in China every time we close a US refinery. The youngest US refinery (Garyville) is approaching 40 years & bulk of US remaining refineries are in the 60-109 year old range – which would be closed and new one opened closer to shifted demand centers in a sane US industrial world. Full disclosure needs to be forced on Environmental impacts as to how much it is costing average person for the new regulations (eliminating MTBE in California & Gulf cost +$0.50/gallon gasoline by itself!) and quit lying that it will come out of big oil profits – when US refineries, like Bakersfield, are having to close because they aren’t profitable trying to turn a fossil fuel into something it isn’t.
    Nimby’s need to also be exposed as big scale global polluters who celebrate closing a refinery in US but allow a larger one to open in China without any regulations.  China has gone from the 4th largest polluter to the largest (by end of 2007) under the useless Kyoto treaty – which by the way failed to have any of it’s 18 signature primary countries meet any of the easier environmental goals thru 2007, and exempted 3rd world countries where the largest increase pollution occurred. The numbers are so bad Kyoto supporters are now trying to show the new numbers in terms of per GDP or population to hide total ton’s increased on both China (new #1) and Russia (up from #7 to new #4) and want to point out how some of its “signature countries” dropped rank #’s instead of admitting they only did so because they were eclipsed by 2 new major polluters they helped create & who are emitting at much higher rates than the developed countries closed plants that were shifted to these developing countries. 
    Current ire over the Fisher Leaded paint on toys is only the tip of what is going on in a country where the only environmental controls are those on paper -without ANY real force behind its enforcement China still makes some leaded gasoline & quick check on its imports would likely show even unleaded exports to US have lead levels (probably close to those allowed in US leaded gasoline before it phased out) because of common tank & pipeline use.
    But logic doesn’t seem to translate into political or environmental lingo.
     Charlie Randall

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