EPA, Sasol Chemical Finalize $1.4M Settlement

April 10, 2024
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Sasol Chemicals for alleged chemical accident prevention violations at its Westlake, Louisiana, facility.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a settlement with Sasol Chemicals over alleged violations of the chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act at the company’s facility in Westlake, Louisiana. Under the settlement, Sasol will pay more than $1.4 million in civil penalties and correct violations related to an October 2022 fire at the facility, as well as those found during a compliance evaluation in 2021. 

From January through July 2021, the EPA conducted a Virtual Partial Compliance Evaluation (VPCE) of the Sasol facility under chemical accident prevention requirements of the Clean Air Act. On Oct. 15, 2022 — during the process to settle alleged violations found during the evaluation — a fire occurred at Sasol that resulted in a shelter-in-place order for the Westlake area. The settlement addresses violations from both the evaluation and the fire.

In addition to the civil penalty, Sasol will undertake several actions to resolve alleged violations, such as improving systems and procedures to assure timely completion of the Process Hazardous Analysis recommendations, improving inspections and procedures to maintain mechanical integrity of process equipment, addressing and resolving overdue compliance audits findings, improving safety systems designed to detect potential hazards, updating written and operating procedures to ensure the safe conducting of work activities and improving implementation practices of operating procedures at the facility.

According to the EPA, the settlement also aligns with new amendments to the Risk Management Program announced on March 1, 2024, that require stronger measures for prevention, preparedness and public transparency. The “Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule” protects the health and safety of all communities by requiring industry to prevent accidental releases of dangerous chemicals that could cause deaths and injuries, damage property and the environment, or require surrounding communities to evacuate or shelter-in-place. The rule requires regulated facilities to perform a safer technologies and alternatives analysis, and in some cases, facilities will be required to implement reliable safeguard measures. Under this settlement, Sasol will develop and implement safe work practices for the pressure testing of related process equipment to avoid further accidental releases like the fire and shelter-in-place that occurred on Oct. 15, 2022.

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