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Cherry Point plant agrees to $4 million settlement over emissions violations

FERNDALE, Wash. — Officials with the Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) issued a press release Wednesday, January 18th, to announce a $4 million settlement with Petrogas West LLC related to gas emissions and projects undertaken without required permits.

This is the largest penalty settlement collected by NWCAA since the agency formed in 1967.

The alleged violations are said to have occurred when a different leadership group operated the Ferndale facility.

According to today’s press release, “In October 2021, NWCAA alleged Petrogas had undertaken projects without obtaining required permits and reporting emissions that resulted from those projects.”

Petrogas operates a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) export terminal on Cherry Point. It receives products via pipelines, as well as rail cars and trucks. Petrogas ships LPG out over its wharf, which it purchased in 2016 from Alcoa Intalco Works prior to their closure in 2020.

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NWCAA’s investigation and subsequent notice of violation alleged that Petrogas:

  • Failed to disclose uncontrolled emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainly propane, from 2014 through 2020.
  • Failed to apply for Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits and an Air Operating Permit as required for sources with larger overall emissions. The undisclosed emissions exceeded the thresholds that require these permits.
  • Failed to install and operate according to Notices of Construction (NOCs) issued by NWCAA based on company-provided information in January 2016, May 2017 and October 2018.

NWCAA’s air quality monitor downwind of the Petrogas facility did not indicate exceedance of a health-based standard over the period in question.

This penalty settlement comes after the facility installed temporary controls on the VOC vent to stop excess emissions, starting in June 2021, and submitted an application for required permits and orders. Current Petrogas management has worked diligently and cooperatively with NWCAA toward resolution of this matter.

Northwest Clean Air Agency (January 18, 2023)
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This settlement resolves the agency’s allegations.

An official with NWCAA told Whatcom News that the settlement will be used toward projects that improve air quality within their jurisdiction. Specifics were still being determined.


This story was updated on January 20th at 9:30am to include how NWCAA intends to use the settlement money.

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