Record penalty

BP pays record $15 million penalty for clean air act violations

In the biggest-ever civil penalty against a single facility for violating the Clean Air Act, BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay $15 million to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations at its Texas City, Texas petroleum refinery.

The settlement, announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department, addresses violations stemming from fires in March 2004 and July 2005 and a leak that occurred in August 2005. The incidents released thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants.

"BP's actions at the Texas City refinery have had terrible consequences for the people who work there and for those in nearby communities," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in a statement. "Today's settlement, in conjunction with other actions already taken by EPA and other federal agencies at Texas City, demonstrates the agency's continuing commitment to actively and vigorously working to hold BP accountable."

It's the latest settlement with BP related to problems at the Texas City refinery. Most notably, a fire there on March 23, 2005, killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others.

With Thursday's settlement, the federal government will have recovered $137 million in criminal, civil and administrative fines from BP Products. In addition, the company has performed approximately $1.4 billion in corrective actions and will spend an additional $500 million to improve safety at the refinery as part of a deal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a criminal Clean Air Act plea agreement.

The proposed settlement was lodged Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

BP was represented by George Wilkinson of Vinson & Elkins.

Steven Shermer of DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division was the attorney in charge for the government, along with co-counsel Keith Wyatt from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Texas.

(Published by - October 1, 2010)

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