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Keep Houston Press Free
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Oldies, And Not Goodies, On The Pollution Front

The wheels of environmental justice move ever so slowly.

To call it a snail's pace would be an insult to mollusks everywhere.

But it is what is, as we say in the parlance of our times, so now we have the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality assessing penalties against two local polluters for violations that occurred as long ago as 2005.

The commission yesterday popped Chevron Phillips Chemical $168,416 and Shell Chemical and Shell Oil $166,530 for environmental crimes.

The problems cited at the Chevron Phillips chemical manufacturing plant near Sweeny in Brazoria County date back to June 2005 while some of the problems uncovered at Shell facilities in Deer Park occurred as long ago as December 2005.

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It may be unfair to complain that it takes too long for the state to hold oil and chemical companies to account for their environmental misdeeds as the right to due process is accorded to us all, whether it's a multinational oil company in the dock or a laid-off pipefitter charged with littering.

On the other hand, it's not as if these type of pollution violations don't keep happening again and again.

In toting up how much the companies should be penalized beyond the maximum $10,000 per-day fine, state regulators noted that Chevron Phillips had received 13 previous notices of violations for similar problems while Shell had received 38 previous notices.

-- Steve Olafson

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