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The Times-Picayune: Shell, DEQ settle emission charges: Fines and upgrades to cost $6.5 million

Thursday, March 15, 2007
By Matt Scallan

Shell Chemical has agreed to spend $6.5 million to settle charges that it violated air and other emissions standards between 1999 and 2003 at its plants in St. Charles and Ascension parishes. The settlement with the state Department of Environmental Quality, which includes $1 million in penalties, was announced Wednesday.

Under the settlement Shell does not admit to any wrongdoing, and the company noted that many of the violations were self-reported.

The bulk of the settlement, $5.5 million, will go toward what the DEQ calls “beneficial environmental projects,” including installing a new flaring system that will reduce the number of flaring events as well as the light and noise from those events.

Flaring occurs when production units go offline and material inside them is burned off for safety reasons.

Other spending involves the donation of $35,000 toward St. Charles Parish’s low-power AM radio system, and $65,000 to improve the emergency response system at Norco Elementary and Norco K-3 schools. The money will buy an integrated intercom system for each school, emergency kits for each classroom, cell phones and safety kits with carts, special-needs evacuation wagons and security gates.

The improvements, to be located at the company’s Norco plant, are to be completed by 2014 and be built as part of scheduled “turnarounds,” or major maintenance, of plant production units in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

The penalty agreement requires Shell to donate $400,000 to the state’s storm cleanup and recovery fund and $300,000 for an air quality study in Baton Rouge.

The agreement also calls for the company to beef up its leak detection and repair program at its plants. Shell Chemical operates plants in Norco, Taft and Geismar, as well as a petroleum refining plant in St. Rose.

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The settlement document is available at

Matt Scallan can be reached at [email protected] or (985) 652-0953.
© 2007 The Times-Picayune. All rights reserved.

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