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Regional Interests

Zenith energy fined for potentially harmful construction without permit

Zenith Energy, the Texas-based company that recently had its request for an air quality permit in Portland rejected, was fined nearly $24,000 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for construction without a permit.

Zenith operates a fuel storage and transportation operation in north Portland along the Willamette River; the oil terminal receives crude oil and renewable fuels from trains, stores it in tanks and sends it through pipes to outgoing ships.

The company has pushed to expand its Portland operations and applied for permits to allow construction in 2020. State regulators denied that request and asked for more information. Now state officials say Zenith proceeded with construction anyway, including leveling some of the area near the river. The department fined Zenith last month, saying that the construction posed risk of releasing sediment into the Willamette River and harming fish and aquatic life.

Zenith’s lawyers have requested a hearing to contest the fine. In the request, Zenith denies many of the state’s claims, including unsafe construction practice. Zenith also said the unpermitted construction was not flagrant as the permit they requested in 2020 was meant for a different project. The request asks for the fine to be reduced to $16,398

Last week, the city denied a land use permit Zenith needs to continue operations in Portland. Zenith is appealing that decision.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting