Read the full article by Aaron Cantu (Capital & Main)

At least 162 oil refineries and other petroleum-holding facilities in California have likely stored or used materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of synthetic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment and are linked to severe illnesses, according to state water regulators.

The California State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to facility operators in March ordering them to submit work plans evaluating the presence of the toxic compounds at their facilities, including areas where PFAS are stored or disposed of and the potential ways the chemicals could have contaminated soil, surface water, storm water and groundwater as part of a multiyear phased investigation into PFAS contamination of drinking water.

Capital & Main obtained a response from the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents some of the largest oil companies in the world, asking for a 90-day extension, which it argued was necessary because of limited company resources and difficulties presented by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The water board granted the extension, as it did similar requests from water treatment facilities and metal finishing facilities.

Operators must now submit work plans to their respective regional water boards by Aug. 31.

PFAS in the oil industry were a subject of a recent undercover investigation by Greenpeace, which found that Exxon conducted a clandestine campaign this year to oppose stronger federal regulations of PFAS. According to a senior Exxon lobbyist, the company lobbied through trade associations to hide its fingerprints and was able to delay tighter PFAS regulations.

Exxon is a member of WSPA. But Christine Luther Zimmerman, the senior regulatory affairs manager for the association, distanced the group from Exxon’s federal lobbying.

‘From a WSPA perspective, we take compliance with respect to PFAS and any constituent or concern very seriously, and we’re working hard to comply with the [water board’s] order and to advise members to comply with the order,” Zimmerman told Capital & Main. “There’s no desire to create a process that’s anything other than the fastest it can be.’”…