The Shell Puget Sound Refinery may face penalties from the Northwest Clean Air Agency over odorous emissions that were released in August and September 2020.

Both emissions were longer than regulatory limits, according to the agency’s findings.

After the September release, the agency received 12 complaints of odors in the area.

The incident was caused by the failure of a piece of equipment in the unit that breaks apart hydrocarbons. As a result of the failure, sulfur and other chemicals were combusted in the flaring unit and released into the air.

Shell will have until April 28 to respond to the Northwest Clean Air Agency’s notice, after which the agency will determine the penalty. Shell was previously penalized for a similar incident.

Andrea Petrich, Shell Puget Sound Refinery spokesperson, said in an email that in both cases, refinery operators responded to reduce impacts, and air monitoring by Shell did not detect harmful compounds in the air.

“We appreciate the feedback our refinery has received and remain cooperative with (Northwest Clean Air Agency) to ensure this does not happen again,” Petrich said.

Shell and the EPA reached a settlement of $191,000 in February for a 2015 flaring incident that released 700 pounds of pollutants and affected more than 550 people, many on the Swinomish reservation, with symptoms such as headaches, irritated throats and nausea.

Northwest Clean Air fined Shell $133,000 for that incident.


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