Evergreen Oil has been named by sources inside the Department of Toxic Substances Control as an example of a business that continues to operate despite continuous violations, according to media reports.
NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit interviewed two sources with the state agency whose objective is to protect residents from toxic substances and “licenses 18 waste facilities” that handles and transports hazardous waste, according to the report.
The two sources, who remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, told NBC Bay Area that regulation is not at the level it should be “and public health is at risk because of it.”
NBC said the sources noted that Evergreen Oil’s Newark facility is a “serial violator of state and city environmental laws.”
Examples of Evergreen’s violations listed in the report include an oil spill into a county flood control ditch in 1989 and the March 2011 fire that injured one employee and prompted the closure of the plant’s re-refinery area.
Since the four-alarm fire in March 2011, Evergreen has made efforts to improve its communication with residents. Still, the plant had an oil leak last July, resulting in the evacuation of the business, and a smoking barrel caused a scare in March 2012.
NBC Bay Area reported that Newark residents’ complaints about the facility date back to 1987, with residents having reported experiencing trouble breathing and nausea.
Since its inception 25 years ago, Evergreen has been fined by numerous agencies for various violations, including odor releases and levels of arsenic in waste water that surpass legal limits, NBC reported.
Here’s more from the report:
Consent orders signed by the DTSC and Evergreen Oil show that between June 2006 and December 2012, the department fined the company a total of $69,500 for violations such as failing to prevent waste from leaking into the soil.
The DTSC maintains it has limited oversight over facilities like Evergreen Oil where multiple agencies have authority.
“We are trying to pawn off our responsibility,” said the first DTSC source, who added that the department should be taking the lead in environmental regulation.
In 2000 when the DTSC accused Evergreen Oil of illegally burning halogen-rich light ends, the company settled with the department for $825,000. Instead of cash, the settlement authorized the DTSC to give Evergreen Oil a break. The agreement allowed the company to apply to pay nearly half of its fines in equipment donations and hazardous waste collection services to the city of Newark.
A spokesperson for Evergreen Oil said the company had no comment.