McAfee & Taft RegLINC - April 2012: Refinery sentenced to pay largest criminal air pollution fine in Louisiana history by Heidi Slinkard Brasher



By Heidi Slinkard Brasher

After pleading guilty to felony violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and obstruction of justice in October 2011, Pelican Refining Company LLC, a Texas oil company operating in Lake Charles, LA, was sentenced to a $10 million criminal fine and $2 million in community service payments for environmental projects in Louisiana.

The company’s admissions include the following:

  • Knowing commission of criminal violation of operating permits, which were discovered during a joint LDEQ – EPA inspection, resulting in unsafe operating conditions;
  • Obstruction of justice for submission of materially false deviation reports;
  • Nonexistent environmental department or budget for the same;
  • Nonfunctioning or improperly-maintained pollution prevention equipment;
  • Storage of sour crude in faulty tank, continuing after roof sank;
  • Bypassing necessary caustic scrubber;
  • Nonfunctioning continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS);
  • Providing false information to states regarding asphalt testing; and
  • Employee use of an emergency flare gun to relight improperly functioning flare used to burn off toxic gasses and for combustion of explosive chemicals.

As the investigation of company practices continues, it is noteworthy that a vice president and a facilities manager have pled guilty to CAA negligent endangerment charges, with the vice president of Lake Charles operations awaiting sentencing which could amount to one year in prison and $400,000 in fines. Furthermore, the company is prohibited from future operations unless it implements an environmental compliance plan with court oversight of quarterly independent audits, an annual practice of which could have prevented – or at least mitigated – the wrongdoing.



Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© McAfee & Taft | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.