HUNTINGTON BEACH : Shell Tells Plans to Cut Down on Smog

Shell Oil Co. representatives, summoned before the City Council to explain the level of air pollutants emitted by the company’s Huntington Beach facilities, disclosed plans this week to spend $19 million during the next four years to reduce smog-producing emissions.

Shell officials said they have already spent $50 million toward consolidating oil-drilling operations and reducing the levels of pollutants emitted. By 1994, the company expects its smog levels will dip well below maximum levels set by state air quality standards.

After the firm’s 45-minute presentation, council members said they were reasonably satisfied that Shell is committed to reversing its pollution problem, the worst in Orange County according to a recent South Coast Air Quality Management District report.

However, the council remained unconvinced that Southern California Edison Co., whose Huntington Beach power plant is also reported to be among the county’s most serious air polluters, has an effective smog-reducing plan in place. Edison’s air cleanup plans at the site hinge largely on a long-promised project that would eliminate one of its four boiler units, a major source of smog-producing nitrous oxides.


Council members said they will pressure Edison to follow through with those efforts and will continue to monitor the progress of both firms in dealing with smog problems.

“The bottom line is some of us (in government) have to hold some feet to the fire in industry,” Councilman John Erskine said. “The smog some of these places are producing is a lot more dangerous to our environment than the American Trader oil spill (which occurred Feb. 7 off Huntington Beach). That’s an isolated incident that hopefully won’t happen again. But some of these industries are dumping pollutants into our air every day. And we’re breathing that stuff.”

The recent AQMD report ranked Shell among the 20 worst smog producers in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The study, based on 1988 findings, rated Shell’s Huntington Beach oil-drilling facilities as the region’s 12th-largest generator of reactive hydrocarbons and 13th biggest source of nitrous oxides. Those elements combine to form ozone, which is smog’s chief component.

Edison’s Pacific Coast Highway operation at Newland Street also made the list. Edison is scheduled in August to present a detailed plan to the AQMD to reduce those emissions.