An Anchorage-based fuel service company violated federal clean air standards for more than a decade. The Environmental Protection Agency announced a fine against Shoreside Petroleum Inc. on Monday.
Shoreside Petroleum was leaking gasoline vapor from its fuel terminals into the air around Seward and Cordova.
The company operates marine terminals throughout Southcentral Alaska where it receives, stores and then ships fuel to customers. And, according to the EPA, the company wasn’t checking for gasoline vapor leaks, loaded fuel into substandard trucks and didn’t have the necessary equipment in place to control emissions.
“If you’ve ever put gasoline in your car and you smell gasoline fumes, that’s the fumes coming from Shoreside’s operations,” EPA Air Quality Inspector John Pavitt said. He handled the agency’s case in Alaska against Shoreside.
Those distinctive fumes don’t just smell bad, they can be hazardous. Pavitt said they contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer, respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease.
The EPA announced $89,000 in fines for the company. But that fine amount could have been much higher.
Pavitt said if the EPA had discovered the violations, the result could have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
But Shoreside took advantage of a new self-audit program with the EPA that allows companies to self-report violations. That lowers the amount of penalties that they have to pay.
In 2014, the company reported violations dating back to 2005.
No one from the company returned phone calls seeking comment.
After Shoreside reported the violations, it had to buy testing equipment and report the results to the EPA. It also had to pay to install pollution controls and check for leaks. It also had to install new roofs inside its holding tanks. It spent more than $400,000 to bring the two locations up to code.
The EPA estimates those new controls reduced the company’s pollution emissions by nearly 30 tons a year in Seward and 9 tons a year in Cordova.
“According to the information they gave us, they handle more than 5 million gallons a year of product. And so 30 tons is a small amount of what they’re handling,” Pavitt said.
According to the terms of the settlement, Shoreside Petroleum doesn’t have to admit to or deny that it committed the violations. It must pay the fine within 30 days.