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Reported by Contra Costa Times:

MARTINEZ, CA. — The Tesoro oil refinery has agreed to pay $472,000 in civil penalties for 35 alleged air pollution violations — some related to a 2010 emission release that triggered shelter in place warnings to neighbors.

The Bay Area Air Quality District reported Wednesday that it reached the settlement with the Tesoro’s Golden Eagle refinery east of Martinez to resolve a series of district violation notices between 2009 and 2011.

Two violation notices were for power failures in 2010 that shut down the refinery, resulting in flaring and smoke that triggered a public shelter in place warning from Contra Costa County’s community warning system.

Since then, Tesoro has improved its power delivery systems, the air pollution district reported.

“This settlement will ensure Tesoro takes responsibility for all systems within its refining process to ensure they do not jeopardize air quality and comply with district regulations,” Jack Broadbent, the district’s executive director, said in a written statement.

Other violations stemmed from a fire during tank maintenance, excessive boiler pollution, excessive hydrogen sulfide, two inaccurate pollution monitors and late emission reports, the air district reported.

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A Wichita, Kan., company that re-refines used motor oil has opened a 12,000-square-foot distribution center at 9262 S. Choctaw Drive, Baton Rouge.

The center will serve Universal Lubricants’ customers in Louisiana and Mississippi, spokeswoman Lynette F. Viviani said. The center will distribute Universal’s branded and proprietary lubricants, which include the Universal and Eco Ultra brands.

The center employs one sales representative and one warehouse woimagesrker/driver.

Universal Lubricants collects used motor oil and removes used-up additives and impurities at the company’s 13-million-gallon re-refinery in Wichita. The result is a “pure base oil” blended with new additives to produce the Eco Ultra line of oil. Products are used by consumers and commerical customers.

The Baton Rouge location is one of 32 facilities Universal Lubricants has nationwide, Viviani said. The local facility is the only one in Louisiana and is not collecting used oil. The amount of Universal’s investment in Baton Rouge was not immediately available.

The United States accounts for roughly 25 percent of the worldwide demand for lubricating oils each year, according to Universal Lubricants, and generates 1.3 billion gallons of used engine oil.

Half of the total comes from transportation and half from industry.

At present, about 880 million gallons is recovered for reuse. The rest is unaccounted for and likely disposed of improperly, damaging the environment, the company says. About 70 percent of the oil gets burned as an industrial fuel, and once that oil is burned it’s gone.

Universal Lubricants says its process offers an ecologically friendly alternative. Re-refining used oil requires about a tenth of the energy to refine crude oil. Re-refining also produces about 35 percent of the environment-impacting emissions that refining crude does.

The average driver who chooses Eco Ultra oil saves eight barrels of foreign crude per year, the company says.

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