Criminal charges filed for detouring hydrocarbon pollution around air monitor


It’s not enough that most state regulators give the fossil fuel mafia a pass to pollute at every opportunity and the brow-beaten EPA is cowed, industry still devises ways to hide their toxic pollution and circumvent the few lax laws we have.

This happened in California but it could and probably does happen other places. In fact, I had a whistleblower contact me last year about a fake scrubber on a coal plant.

Criminal investigation at Chevron refinery
Pollutants allegedly routed around monitoring devices
Jaxon Van Derbeken
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Chevron after discovering that the company detoured pollutants around monitoring equipment at its Richmond refinery for four years and burned them off into the atmosphere, in possible violation of a federal court order, The Chronicle has learned.

Chevron is not exactly strapped for cash according to their Annual Report. “2011 was a record year for our financial performance. Net income was $26.9 billion on sales and other operating revenues of $244.4 billion.” No matter what the bottom line, this industry finds way to cut corners at the expense of our vital natural resources and health.

Air quality officials say Chevron fashioned a pipe inside its refinery that routed hydrocarbon gases around monitoring equipment and allowed them to be burned off without officials knowing about it. Some of the gases escaped into the air, but because the company didn’t record them, investigators have no way of being certain of the level of pollution exposure to thousands of people who live downwind from the plant.

Chevron says the pipe was “inadvertent.” Really? Someone built a pipe to route pollutants around monitoring equipment and it was unintentional. Lame.

The worst part is inspectors caught them in 2009 and they are just now getting around to taking action. Man, the EPA is sure overstepping their authority here. /sarcasm

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. says

    This was the exception – not in bad behavior but in that they got apprehended – most gas processing plants in the field = that remove the bad stuff such as radon and benzene from the raw gas stream – simply vent the stuff (not flared) – onto the neighbors . . . Never get caught, never makes the headlines – until some neighbor’s kids get sick or their pony drops dead in the creek.

    • Anonymous says

      How true, these gas plants in Tx vent all kinds of stuff in the acid gas stream, including H2S, and large amounts of CO2 so that the oxygen level in the air is lowered to alarm conditions. And then there is the H2S. Sometimes the plants include a deodorant with the vented stream to hide the H2S from the peasants. And then there is the crap from he glycol dehydrators, and tank vents, including all kinds of VOC’s such as benzene, toluene, etc.

  2. Tim Ruggiero says

    Saw a Chevron TV commercial earlier today on ‘Shale Gas’. It featured a woman ‘concerned’ about the environment, and on the other side, a guy talking about jobs, adding billions to the economy and of course, the ever present American flag waving in the background. The catch line from the concerned woman was “We either do it right, or we don’t do it all all.” One would think they were talking about Drilling Right, I guess they were actually talking about circumventing the law.