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Oregon denies oil terminal permit needed to fully operate

September 1, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon regulators said Wednesday they will not renew a permit needed by a crude oil storage company to operate portions of its facility in Northwest Portland.

That delivers a potentially fatal blow to some of Zenith Energy’s operations, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said its decision to deny a new air quality permit followed a refusal by Portland city officials last week to grant the company a favorable land use ruling it needed to continue and potentially expand its operations at its terminal along the Willamette River.

“Under state law, when a local government makes a negative compatibility determination, state agencies generally may not approve permits for the operation,” the state environmental agency said.

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The environmental agency’s decision takes effect in 60 days, which could force Zenith to halt some operations at that time. The company is allowed to appeal the state’s decision and has appealed the city’s ruling to the state land use board.

A building permit to install rail infrastructure to handle renewable fuels and non-fossil fuel products is currently under review by Portland’s Bureau of Development Services.

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

Earlier this week Oregon regulators announced they had fined Zenith nearly $25,000, saying it performed months of construction work without a permit at its terminal. The company was given 20 days to contest the fine, but it’s unclear if it has done so.

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