Washington, D.C. – U.S.-based ExxonMobil has agreed to pay nearly US$6.1 million in civil penalties for violating the terms of a 2005 court-approved Clean Air Act agreement, in addition to a $7.7 million civil penalty already levied. The company must also pay for $6.7 million in supplemental environmental projects in communities around its refineries, and install pollution controls at six U.S. locations.
“The 2005 settlement has already resulted in major reductions in air emissions from the company’s refineries, but we need full compliance to realize all the benefits of the settlement,” said Granta Nakayama of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “EPA will continue to enforce against companies that fail to comply with the terms of court-approved settlements.”
The agreement penalizes ExxonMobil for failing to comply with the 2005 settlement at refineries in Torrance, California; Baton Rouge, Lousiana; and Beaumont and Baytown, Texas. Two other refineries covered under the settlement are in Joliet, Illinois and Billings, Montana. The penalties relate to a failure to monitor the sulphur content in some fuel gas streams, and subsequent sulphur content in excess of EPA limits, between approximately 2005 and 2007. Burning sulphur-containing gases emits sulphur dioxide, which can cause serious respiratory problems.
The 2005 settlement and the current penalty settlement with ExxonMobil were reached as part of a broader EPA initiative to reduce air pollution from refineries across the U.S. To date, 95 refineries, representing more than 86 per cent of the nation’s refining capacity, have been required to install new controls to reduce emissions.