Never Too Big to Be Held Accountable

Jan 7, 2022

Baykeeper's legal action to stop petroleum coke pollution at the Port of Benicia just got much bigger. We put Valero—one of America’s largest companies, #16 on the Forbes Top 50—on notice that we’re going to add them to our lawsuit. That is, unless Valero's massive Benicia oil refinery takes immediate action to stop its petcoke from polluting the Bay.

Late last year, we captured damning evidence of pollution at the Port of Benicia, a property operated by a company called Amports. Our drone footage documented streams of black dust floating into the air, and black plumes of soot spreading into the Bay. The pollution was petroleum coke, a toxic and carbon-dense fossil fuel that Amports ships overseas to be burned for power, which pollutes adjoining neighborhoods and contributes mightily to the global climate crisis. So, we initiated a lawsuit against Amports.

Instead of cleaning up the port’s operations, Amports blamed Valero, the oil refinery that produces the petcoke. Based on our drone footage of the petcoke loading, there’s more than enough blame to go around, so we added Valero to our legal action. Baykeeper will fight to make sure each and every polluter is held accountable for their conduct.

In the vast majority of our hundreds of past industrial pollution cases, the polluter and Baykeeper have negotiated a legally binding agreement in which the polluter commits to a specific plan and timeline to clean up its operations and come into compliance with the law. We hope that’s what will happen here as well. But if Valero and Amports decide not to cooperate with us to resolve their pollution problems, Baykeeper will pursue a lawsuit against them in federal court.

No company—not even #16 on the Forbes list—is too big to be held accountable. And Baykeeper will keep doing what it takes to make sure that nobody gets away with polluting the Bay and our local communities.

Drone footage by Baykeeper 

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