ConocoPhillips, Sasol North America settle pollution charges

ConocoPhillips Co. and Sasol North America Inc. agreed to pay $4.5 million to reimburse the federal chemical waste Superfund and complete a more than $10 million cleanup of Bayou Verdine in Louisiana’s Calcasieu Estuary to settle federal pollution charges, the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced on Oct. 13.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 18 -- ConocoPhillips Co. and Sasol North America Inc. agreed to pay $4.5 million to reimburse the federal chemical waste Superfund and complete a more than $10 million cleanup of Bayou Verdine in Louisiana’s Calcasieu Estuary to settle federal pollution charges, the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced on Oct. 13.

The two companies were charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act and Comprehensive Environment Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for allegedly dumping or discharging wastes from their refineries and petrochemical facilities into Bayou Verdine southwest of Westlake in Calcasieu Parish.

ConocoPhillips and Sasol previous agreed with EPA to perform an engineering evaluation and cost analysis of Bayou Verdine, DOJ and EPA said. Remedial investigations in 1999 subsequently found arsenic, polynuclear-aromatic hydrocarbons, zinc, copper, mercury and other hazardous substances in the bayou and the adjacent Coon Island Loop of the Calcasieu River, the complaint said.

DOJ said it also lodged a second consent decree to resolve the two companies’ liability for natural resource damages in the estuary resulting from the alleged hazardous substance discharges. It said that federal and state natural resources trustees worked with the two companies over several years to assess injuries and develop a restoration plan.

Under that settlement’s terms, ConocoPhillips and Sasol agreed to reimburse the trustees nearly $1.2 million for a share of past natural resource damages assessment costs, construct a restoration project selected by the trustees in the Sabine Wildlife Refuge, and pay another $750,000 for the restoration project’s future monitoring, DOJ and EPA said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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