ANACORTES — Shell Puget Sound Refinery was fined $77,000 on Nov. 10 for a February incident that brought numerous complaints of an odor.

The state Department of Labor & Industries fined the refinery for two violations relating to improper operation of a flare, a gas combustion device that burns off substances that shouldn’t go airborne. The flare also prevents fires or explosions.

The more serious violation alleges the refinery skipped decontamination steps when shutting down a flare for maintenance. Skipping those steps exposed workers to toxic substances, according to Labor & Industries.

The department cited that as a “willful violation” — the most severe — and docked the refinery $70,000. The second violation was a $7,000 penalty for giving workers the incorrect flare shutdown procedure.

Refinery spokesperson Robin Yates issued a response.

“While we do not agree with the allegation and are evaluating our legal options, we want to affirm that there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our employees and community,” he said. “We treat all issues related to health and safety with the utmost seriousness and are cooperating with the agency on this matter.”

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community members were reportedly sickened by the odor. Two people were hospitalized, according to Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby.

The refinery has 15 working days to appeal the penalties.

— Reporter Aaron Weinberg: 360-416-2145,,

Load comments