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Shell to Pay $350,000 Penalty for Environmental Release, Explosion

Release Date: 12/3/2001
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Shell Chemical Company has agreed to pay a $350,000 penalty in settlement of a lawsuit filed through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  EPA's suit stemmed from an explosion and fire on June 22, 1997, at Shell's Deer Park, Texas, facility, which caused extensive damage to the facility and injured several workers.

     A joint EPA/Shell investigation showed the explosion and fire were caused by a check valve failure, which released flammable gas. EPA determined that Shell had a pattern of problems with the type of valves it was using in many facilities. The valves, known as pneumatically assisted Clow Model GMZ check valves, were an inappropriate design for Shell's use.

     "Plant owners and operators have a general duty to anticipate, prevent and minimize the effects of accidental releases whenever extremely hazardous substances are present. I hope Shell's experience will serve as a reminder that there is no substitute for safety.  EPA will continue to promote and enforce responsible management of hazardous substances to ensure that human health and the environment remain protected," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     In addition to the fine, Shell has verified it either modified, decommissioned or replaced the valves with a safer design. Shell also implemented procedures to track problems with equipment from its plants.

     The Occupational Safety and Health Administration previously settled its case with Shell in relation to this incident.

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