We’re releasing a new report profiling oil company Tesoro’s track record of flouting safety rules, injuring workers, obstructing safety investigations, toxic air pollution, and meddling in politics.
As the Texas company angles to build a massive oil shipping facility along the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, local residents are increasingly anxious about Tesoro’s plans to handle up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day, transferring petroleum from 4 to 5 mile-long oil trains. The trains pose a range of risks to neighboring homes and businesses: traffic delays, oil spills, and even fiery derailments like that oil train that exploded a year ago in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec killing 47 people.
In The Dirt on Tesoro, Sightline examines Tesoro’s record and concludes that locals are right to worry. In recent years, Tesoro has been guilty of:
- “Willful” violations in Anacortes refinery fire: After a deadly 2010 refinery fire in Anacortes killed seven workers, state and federal investigators blasted Tesoro, calling the company “complacent” about safety and issuing 39 citations of “willful” indifference to hazards at the site.
- One facility, 4,000 clean air violations: The EPA says that Tesoro violated the Clean Air Act no fewer than 4,000 times at a single refinery in North Dakota and hundreds more times at other refinery locations. The company is among the top 100 toxic polluters nationally.
- Oil spills and secrecy: When a Tesoro pipeline burst in 2013, the company did not bother to inform the affected landowner, who only discovered the spill after he noticed crude oil bubbling six inches high around the tires of his combine.
- Hostility to safety investigators: Tesoro barred the gates to federal safety inspectors after a burst pipe at a California refinery sprayed two workers in the face with sulfuric acid. Though the workers were helicoptered to a hospital and treated for burns, Tesoro called its employees’ injuries “minor.”
- Fights with unions over worker safety: Tesoro opposed union-supported efforts to have shareholders pressure the company into disclosing more information about its safety practices and risks.
- Meddling in politics: Tesoro already meddles in Washington politics, bankrolling political candidates and Tim Eyman-sponsored ballot initiatives with hundreds of thousands of dollars. In California, Tesoro spent $1.5 million on a measure that would have gutted environmental laws.
Read the full report at www.sightline.org/tesoro.