State water regulators have issued a $285,000 penalty against the Phillips 66 refinery for releasing millions of gallons of industrial wastewater into San Pablo Bay early 2019.
The penalty is part of a settlement agreement that became public late last week and is the 11th issued by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board in the last 17 years against Phillips 66, according to KQED.
The most recent violation involves a discharge that took place on Feb. 14, 2019, when the refinery released 8.45 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the bay. This exceeded the allowed daily volume by about 5.4 million gallons.
Leading up to the release, a series of storms hit the Bay Area with heavy rain and approximately 5 inches fell on the refinery, reported KQED. The runoff clogged a filter at the Phillips 66 wastewater treatment plant.
According to Adrienne Ursino, refinery spokeswoman, the 2019 storm "temporarily created operational challenges for our capacity to handle the large storm water flows collected in our refinery systems."
Ursino added that tests of the runoff that escaped into the bay showed it was well within regulatory limits on toxic material and water quality set by the facility's discharge permit.
"Industrial wastewater, especially from an oil refinery, can contain pollutants like toxic heavy metals and petroleum waste that are harmful to the bay, wildlife, and people," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper.
Since 2003, the water board has now penalized Phillips 66 a total of 11 times for violating limits. Including the newest fine, the violations have resulted in approximately $1.2 million in penalties.