Following in the footsteps of Shell and and ChevronPhillips, ExxonMobil has been sued by environmental groups who say its refinery routinely violates clean-air regulations and doesn't really do anything about it.
The Sierra Club and Environment Texas announced their lawsuit today at ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery, the largest in the country.
"Air quality in Harris County, and especially along the Houston Ship Channel, continues to be among the worst in the nation," said Neil Carman, a chemist and the Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club. "Whether you're talking about high levels of ozone that make it difficult to breathe or about toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, industrial facilities like Exxon's Baytown plant are major contributors to the problem."
The lawsuit centers on "upset" events and "alleges that equipment breakdowns, malfunctions, and other non-routine incidents at the Baytown Complex since 2005 have resulted in the release of more than eight million pounds of pollutants into the surrounding air, frequently in violation of legal limits," according to an Environment Texas press release.
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"As long as major polluters continue to foul our air, and as long as state regulators fail to take effective action, we have a duty to our members and to the public to try to enforce the clean air laws ourselves," said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas.
ExxonMobil issued a statement saying it intended to fight the lawsuit.
"As a concerned member of the Baytown community, we are fully committed to improving air quality for all workers and families in this area," refinery manager Steve Cope said. "We will continue to build on our recent successes and seek ways to address and advance the issues of environmental quality in this region."
The suit was filed in federal court in Houston.