SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cited Plains All American Pipeline LP's Bakersfield crude by rail terminal with a series of violations, according to a notice made public on Monday.
The federal agency said in the notice the facility's owner failed to obtain valid emissions permits, install best available control technologies or provide emissions offsets as required by the local air district, according to the notice.
The terminal has been operating since November 2014 and can currently receive one 100-car unit train a day carrying oil from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota as well as heavier tar oil sands crude from Western Canada.
Plains spokesman Brad Leone said the company would not comment until it receives a formal notice of the violations from the EPA.
The EPA notice does not, however, bring operations at the facility to a halt, noted Elizabeth Forsyth, an attorney with environmental group Earthjustice, but it will rack up daily fines if it continues to operate.
The number of crude-carrying trains destined for California refineries has risen sharply in recent years, prompting safety and environmental concerns following a series of fiery derailments.
Environmental groups cheered the EPA's move, which found that an environmental review conducted by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District was not thorough enough.
"The EPA stepped in to protect California from this crude-by-rail facility's dangerous air pollution," said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
"Federal intervention is urgently needed because the air district and Kern County officials have utterly failed to safeguard public health and the environment," she said.
The facility is located in Taft, California, which is part of Kern County.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by G Crosse)