Chevron refinery ammonia spill draws violations from regulators

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Air regulators say the Chevron refinery in El Segundo violated pollution standards for 11 days and may pay penalties. KPCC’s Molly Peterson has more.

For 11 days at the end of June, a pollution control device at Chevron’s El Segundo plant wasn’t working as it was supposed to, so the equipment released an unusually high amount of ammonia gas. When the equipment works right, some ammonia always slips into the air. But this time Chevron reported releasing seven times the amount of the gas rules allow for more than a week and a half.

The company did inform state emergency managers, but the South Coast Air Quality Management District learned of the spill from KPCC. Regulators set limits on ammonia pollution because it contributes to smog, poses respiratory concerns for people nearby, and can contribute to warming climate. AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood says now that Chevron’s gotten a notice of violations, the district and the company will work to determine penalties out of court.