ExxonMobil fined $6.1 million for CAA violations

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 18 -- ExxonMobil Corp. agreed to pay nearly $6.1 million in civil penalties for violating terms of a 2005 court-approved Clean Air Act agreement, said the US Department of Justice and US Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 17.

The company already was required to pay a $7.7 million civil penalty, spend another $6.7 million for supplemental environmental projects in communities around its refineries, and install pollution controls at six of its US refineries under the 2005 settlement, the two federal agencies noted.

They said the new settlement penalizes Exxon Mobil for failing to comply with the original agreement at four refineries in Beaumont and Baytown, Tex.; Torrance, Calif.; and Baton Rouge, La. Most of the penalties are for failure to monitor and control the sulfur content in certain fuel gas streams burned in refinery furnaces as the 2005 agreement and EPA regulations require, DOJ and EPA said.

The two other Exxon Mobil refineries that the original agreement covered, are in Joliet, Ill., and Billings, Mont., they added.

During 2005-07, the company did not monitor the sulfur content in some fuel gas streams, and subsequent testing revealed levels above EPA limits. Burning gases that contain sulfur emits sulfur dioxide, which can cause serious respiratory problems, according to DOJ and EPA.

They said the 2005 agreement and the latest settlement with Exxon Mobil were reached as part of a broader EPA initiative to reduce air pollution from refineries. To date, 95 refineries in 28 states representing more than 86% of total US refining capacity have been required to install new controls to significantly reduce emissions, they said.

In a separate Dec. 17 action, DOJ and EPA proposed amendments to the 2005 agreement which include minor technical changes and new deadlines for some required activities at Exxon Mobil's Joliet, Billings, Beaumont, and Baytown refineries. The proposed amendments, which were filed on Dec. 17 in federal district court in Chicago, are subject to a 30-day comment period, the agencies said.

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