By Laura Sanicola
(Reuters) -The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a California unit of oil refiner PBF Energy Inc over a November emissions release, the company said.
PBF Energy’s Martinez refinery emitted a “powdery substance” later determined to be spent catalysts used in the refining process last Nov. 24 and 25 and had failed to notify the county of the release, Reuters reported last year.
“We are cooperating with all relevant agencies, including with respect to any ongoing investigations related to the incident,” said a PBF Energy spokesperson on Friday, declining further comment on pending legal matters.
The Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Parsippany, N.J.-based PBF acquired the refinery, located on an 860-acre site in Martinez, in 2020.
The Los Angeles Times earlier reported the FBI and EPA were canvassing local residents as part of an investigation into the spent catalysts’ release.
A sample collected last year by Contra Costa Health Services showed levels of aluminum, barium, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and zinc higher than normal background levels for those metals.
The Contra Costa District Attorney is pursuing legal action against the refinery for failing to notify the county when the release happened, county health officials have said.
The oil refiner “thoroughly investigated the incident to identify appropriate corrective actions and we are committed to implementing them,” the PBF Energy spokesperson added.
(Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by Leslie Adler and Kim Coghill)