East Bay News

Watchdog group calls for oil refinery shut down

Monday, July 16, 2012

There are demands emerging that the Evergreen Oil Refinery change its practices or shut down.

Evergreen is California's largest oil waste recycling plant. In fact, a lot of the engine oil that once was in your car may have been recycled right there at the plant. Evergreen considers itself an environmentally friendly company, but critics say it's far from it.

On July 6th, a pipe leak spewed super heated liquid, triggering an emergency evacuation after toxic vapors were released. The accident marks the latest in a string problems at Evergreen Oil Refinery, in Newark.

In March of 2011, a pipe burst igniting an explosion and fire and this past March, hazmat crews paid another visit after a 55 gallon drum blew open causing another vapor release.

"They seem to be a pattern of problems," said Liza Tucker from the Consumer Watchdog.

A group called the Consumer Watchdog says the California Department Of Toxic Substances Control is failing to police Evergreen oil after repeated violations near homes and schools.

"It's just simply unacceptable to let a company off the hook that way for years at a time," said Tucker.

In a statement, Evergreen would only respond to the July 6th incident saying, "Evergreen has been praised by the City of Newark for their immediate report of the situation... Evergreen has always and continues to put public safety first."

The Department Of Toxic Substances Control says, between 2008 and 2010, Evergreen paid $35,000 in fines for violations ranging from containment problems to clerical errors. The fines did not include violations from the past two years.

"Once in a while you get these smells and you wonder 'What's going on?' Then you come to learn about it through different people or sources," said Gopi Kudva, a Newark resident.

"As far as risk factor, you smell it, it's annoying, it goes away, but then I'd rather live next to them then the Shell oil refineries," said Debbie Dahlin, a Newark resident.

Evergreen has been operating at 50 percent capacity since the 2011 explosion and it's preparing to reopen the other half. The watchdog group wants to shut it down and it may happen without action from the state.

A memo sent to employees last Thursday, from the CEO says, "Evergreen is going through extremely difficult financial times. The company has been working diligently to bring the plant up to compliance."

The Department Of Toxic Substances Control says it will not comment at this time whether or not it will shutdown Evergreen Oil.

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newark, oil, recycling, east bay news, alan wang
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