Baykeeper Update

Minimizing Pollution from the Shell Oil Refinery

Baykeeper recently urged regulators to strengthen controls on pollution in San Francisco Bay from the Shell Oil Refinery in Martinez. We recommended that the Regional Water Quality Control Board tighten the refinery’s permit to discharge water into the Bay.

The Shell refinery discharges about 5.8 million gallons of treated wastewater deep into the Carquinez Strait each day, about 500 feet from shore. The refinery also discharges storm water into Peyton Creek and Peyton Slough, two waterways that drain to Carquinez Strait.

Shell has violated its pollution limits several times over the past five years, contaminating the Bay with selenium and toxic hazardous substances.

Baykeeper urged the Regional Water Board to set more stringent limits on the amount of pollution the refinery can release into the Bay.

We also recommended that a limit be placed on Shell’s air emissions of mercury. Some of the mercury falls back down directly into the Bay. The mercury that falls onto surrounding surfaces eventually enters the Bay, because rain washes it into local waterways. The Water Board can and should regulate Shell’s mercury air pollution, because this pollution impacts water quality.

In addition, Baykeeper recommended that Shell be required to test its wastewater and storm water for levels of pollutants. As it stands now, Shell takes part in a regional program that tests samples of Bay water taken too far from the refinery to assess pollution from Shell.

The refinery should also be required to do more to prevent polluted storm water runoff from entering the Bay, Baykeeper told the regulators.

Baykeeper recommended several other measures to reduce pollution from the Shell refinery, and we will continue to advocate for stronger pollution controls on all Bay Area industrial polluters.