Zenith oil terminal fined by state for ‘flagrant’ conduct

August 31, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon regulators have fined a crude oil storage company nearly $25,000, saying it performed months of construction work without a permit at its terminal along the Willamette River in Northwest Portland.

Newly-released documents show the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality imposed the financial penalty last month, claiming the unsanctioned activity at the property posed a risk of discharging harmful sediment into the nearby waterway, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The company was given 20 days to contest the fine, but it’s unclear if it did.

In a July 7 ruling, the state environmental agency said it was “concerned by the flagrant nature of Zenith’s conduct” because the company continued construction even after state regulators denied its application for a permit to do the work.

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Details of the fine come days after city of Portland officials refused to grant the company a favorable land use ruling it likely needs to continue and potentially expand its operations.

The city’s refusal to grant that blessing will likely weigh heavily against Zenith as it seeks to renew a separate — and necessary — air quality permit with the state environmental agency. Its current permit expired Tuesday.

The Houston-based company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

Zenith bought a former asphalt refinery on Northwest Front Avenue for $61 million in 2017. It uses the facility to store fuels before transferring them to ships bound for refineries and markets elsewhere.