Houston, TX – On August 19, NELC attorneys filed their second federal lawsuit aimed at reducing emissions of toxic and smog-causing chemicals from petrochemical plants along Texas’s Gulf Coast, one of the nation’s worst air pollution “hot spots.”
The suit, against Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, comes on the heels of NELC’s landmark Clean Air Act settlement with Shell Oil Company in June. Both cases target illegal air emissions arising from unplanned, but frequent, plant “upsets.”
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Environment Texas and Sierra Club, alleges that Chevron Phillips has repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, illegally releasing more than one million of pounds of air pollutants, primarily smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide.
Chevron Phillips is owned by Chevron Corporation and ConocoPhillips. The 1,200-acre Cedar Bayou facility, located some 25 miles east of downtown Houston, is the largest of its domestic manufacturing facilities, producing over six billion pounds of chemicals annually.
“The effects of pollutants released from the Cedar Bayou plant can be felt in downtown Houston and beyond,” explained Dr. Neil Carman, a chemist and the Clean Air Program Director for Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.
“On October 7, 1999, I was in Houston when a cloud of VOCs released from a single upset event at the Cedar Bayou plant contributed to extraordinarily high ozone levels all along the Houston Ship Channel,” Dr. Carman added. “It was the single worst ozone day in Houston in the last twenty years.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Chevron Phillips to end its Clean Air Act violations. The company also faces civil penalties of up to $32,500 or more per day for each violation.