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BP to Pay $15 Million Penalty for Clean Air Act Violation

BP has agreed to pay $15 million as a penalty for Clean Air Act violations at its Texas City refinery in the largest settlement for a single refinery. The violations stem from fires and toxic leaks in 2004 and 2005 accoridng to new sources such as the New York Times. From the Texas City refinery alone, the federal government has recovered over $137 million in criminal, civil, and administrative fines for safety and environmental violations.

The 450,000 barels of crude per day refinery has a long history of air pollution violations. In 2009, the Texas Attorney General sued BP for violating clean air standards at the Texas City plant 72 times over the previous 5 year period. As BP’s oil spill continued to gush unprecedented volumes of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s Texas City refinery released over 500,000 pounds of toxins into the Texas City air without ever notifying local residents. The EPA stated that the benzene release in Texas City has “resulted in the flaring of chemicals that could have reasonably resulted in a catastrophic release of a hazardous air pollutant.” The EPA has launched an investigation into the release and as stated in a release that it “will also look at the promptness of the investigation after the release.”

BP claims it diverted the pollutants to a smokestack and that is “air monitoring stations” (at some unreported time and place) did not record a rise in “air pollution” in the area (without specificying which exact area) during the time of the toxic release.