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The Bakersfield Californian: Shell Oil of Bakersfield, Calif., Faces $16,500 in Fines: “When reached Thursday afternoon, Shell spokesman Stan Mays said he was unaware of the violation or fine.”: Saturday 3 December 2005


By The Bakersfield Californian


Dec. 2--Shell Oil Co. of Bakersfield faces $16,500 in federal fines for not properly accounting for toxic chemicals at its former Rosedale Highway refinery, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


"It's basically a paperwork problem," Russell Frazer, environmental protection specialist for the agency in San Francisco, said Thursday.


Businesses that handle toxic materials have to account for every drop, whether that drop ends up in a product, up in the air or down the drain. Shell Oil didn't accurately report two refinery chemicals, cyclohexane and MTBE, in 2000 and 2001, according to the EPA.


The accounting errors appear unrelated to past environmental problems, Frazer said. In the past, the refinery had a 2,300-gallon spill of pure MTBE.


Shell Oil reported the problem itself, Frazer said. The company's fine is a small fraction of what it would be if the EPA had discovered the discrepancies, Frazer said.


When reached Thursday afternoon, Shell spokesman Stan Mays said he was unaware of the violation or fine.


Shell Oil no longer owns the Rosedale Highway refinery. Flying J Inc., a privately owned Ogden, Utah-based company best known for its truck stops, bought the refinery from Shell in March. The refinery is operated by Flying J subsidiary Big West Oil.


Refinery manager Gene Cotten said Thursday he was unaware of the EPA violation.


"We have a group of about six or eight people that audit our environmental compliance," Cotten said. "We aren't aware of any ongoing issues." He said the refinery hasn't had any environmental issues since Flying J took over.


By Sarah Ruby and Ryan Schuster


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