As NELC attorneys work on an appeal, ExxonMobil continues to violate the Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant complex.
NELC filed suit against Exxon in 2010, and took the fossil fuel giant to trial in February 2014, in an effort to hold the company accountable for years of illegal pollution. Facing a potential civil penalty in the hundreds of millions for thousands of violations it did not dispute, Exxon nonetheless escaped scot free when Judge David Hittner refused to fine the company or to order any measures to improve its compliance record.
Since trial, Exxon has continued to unlawfully release dangerous pollutants into the air from is Baytown complex. Exxon has committed dozens of unauthorized “emission events,” including one in October 2014 that released over
200,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide, nitrous oxide, and carbon monoxide. These releases were caused by a plugged line that led to a compressor trip—the same line in the same compressor that caused emission events discussed at trial.
In his ruling, Judge Hittner dismissed as too speculative the concern that the many fires and gas leaks at the Baytown Complex increase the risk of an explosion. Yet Exxon’s refinery in Torrance, CA, suffered just such an explosion this past February. In addition to injuring four workers, the blast spread so much ash and debris that children and teachers at 14 schools in the area were told to stay indoors to protect themselves from contaminated air.