'Texas Clean Air Act' leads to injunction for BP

Posted by, Jessica Boyd. mail

AUSTIN, TX (TX Attorney General's Office)- BP Products North America, Inc. today agreed to refrain from unlawfully emitting pollutants into the air at its Texas City refinery. Earlier this month, the Attorney General filed a 108-page enforcement action filed cites 53 separate unlawful pollutant emissions at BP's Texas City facility.

The agreed temporary injunction filed today ensures that BP will comply with state environmental protection laws until the state's enforcement action is concluded.

Under today's agreement, BP must:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of the 53 emissions that are cited in the state's lawsuit. The review is intended to determine causes and corrective actions that will prevent future occurrences;
  • Conduct a detailed investigation into all future emission events, take immediate action to mitigate the consequences of those events and develop corrective action plans that will to address the root cause of those events - and prevent similar events in the future
  • Improve air monitoring systems so that BP can more easily identify future emissions
  • Improve reporting procedures to ensure full compliance with applicable Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rules

Court documents filed by the state indicate that BP's Texas City refinery caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of unauthorized pollutant emissions. The Attorney General's enforcement action cites a "pattern of unnecessary and unlawful emissions"--which led the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to file 15 enforcement orders against BP between 2000 and 2007. Among the improperly released air pollutants were volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

On March 23, 2005, an explosion at BP's Texas City facility killed fifteen people and injured 170 workers. That explosion led to the unlawful release of contaminants for more than 160 hours. An investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found that the event was "avoidable" and stemmed from the defendant's "poor operations practices." The 2005 explosion was one of the 53 incidents cited in the Attorney General's enforcement action.

BP's Texas City refinery produces gasoline, distillates, fuel oil, sulfuric acid, petroleum coke and petrochemical feedstocks.

The state is seeking a permanent injunction requiring the company to implement all necessary measures to eliminate future unlawful emissions. The state is also seeking civil penalties, fines and attorneys' fees.