Shell Chemical has agreed to pay $6.5 million in penalties and donations for various St. Charles Parish services as part of their settlement with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
The settlement was announced March 14 in a statement released by the DEQ, $1 million of which will be paid as a penalty and be placed in the Louisiana hazardous waste cleanup fund, with the remaining $5.5 million to be used for what the DEQ referred to as “beneficial environment projects”.
Shell admits no wrongdoing on their end according to the settlement, which includes a variety of violations that occurred between 1999 and 2004. The sites mentioned in the settlement are primarily located in St. Charles and include the Shell Norco West and East plants, a site in St. Rose, the Taft plant and the Geismar plant located in Ascension Parish.
$4.7 million will be used to install a flare-reduction improvement system in efforts to reduce flaring events and light associated with flaring. The new flaring system will also assist in reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, according to the DEQ.
The flare system will be installed during three separate turnaround periods starting with the 2008 turnaround and continuing in 2010 and 2012 and should be operational within 180 days after completion.
Under the agreement reached with the DEQ, Shell has agreed to have all projects completed by 2014 unless extenuating circumstances cause delays.
$400,000 of the settlement will be used to establish a hurricane/storm cleanup and recovery fund and will help pay for collection, recycling and disposal of hazardous waste materials and repairs to municipal sewage treatment facilities and collection systems that are damaged by hurricanes.
A $65,000 donation will be made to the St. Charles Parish School System, which will be used to improve crisis management and emergency response systems for Norco K-3rd grade and 4th-6th grade schools. The money will also help fund improvements to the schools such as radios, integrated intercom systems, emergency kits for each classroom, cell phones to be used for emergencies and special need evacuation necessities.
Another $35,000 will be donated to the St. Charles EOC to enhance their emergency AM radio station.
In a release from the DEQ, Assistant Secretary Harold Leggett said the settlement was important because it addressed past violations as well as needs for the future.
“With addition of internal audits and installation of new equipment, the Shell Chemical sites involved in this agreement will see a decrease in emissions and permit violations,” Leggett said. “Through the environmental projects included in the agreement, the areas surrounding Shell Chemical sites will see environmental improvements as well.”