Oil production company spends $1 million to meet SPCC requirements

A California-based oil production plant, fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year for failing to meet federal spill prevention and chemical reporting standards, has invested $1 million on upgrades to comply with regulations.

Allenco Energy Inc. voluntarily shut down operations in late 2013, according to the EPA, after EPA inspectors discovered that its facility was in violation of the "General Duty Clause" of the Clean Air Act. The plant did not take specific measures to prevent accidental air releases of hazardous substances. The EPA also found that the company was in violation of the Clean Water Act, which requires onshore oil production facilities to implement a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan.

The EPA's investigation was prompted by a number of community complaints regarding emissions from the plant. Hundreds of letters were sent to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, with residents complaining of "noxious odors and health effects such as headaches and nosebleeds."

The EPA eventually fined the company $99,000 and outlined a number of actions Allenco must take before it can reopen. The plant also agreed to make $700,000 worth of upgrades to the facility and revise its SPCC plan to adhere to regulations.

The company recently announced that it had invested $1 million into the upgrades and told the community that it plans to open in the "not-too-distant future." Allenco representative Peter Wittingham said the company had so far replaced all pressure release valves, cleaned and resealed tanks and updated emergency plans for the facility, among other things.

Companies working on bringing their businesses into compliance with federal regulations should work closely with environmental consultants. Consultants can help develop strategies for upgrades and ensure future adherence to laws.