Abbott files suit against BP over pollution violations at Texas City refinery

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 8, 2009, 4:13am


GALVESTON – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed suit against BP Products North America Inc, alleging continuous violations of the state's pollution laws at the company's Texas City refinery.

According to a 97-page enforcement action released June 4 by the attorney general's office, BP is responsible for 46 separate unlawful pollutant emissions between 2002 and 2007.

Among these alleged incidents is the March 23, 2005, explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 170.

"BP Products is charged with polluting our environment, concealing information from authorities and harming Texans," Abbott said. "This enforcement action holds BP accountable for failing to comply with environmental, health and safety laws that are intended to protect Texans from harm."

Court documents argue that poor operational practices and inadequate maintenance triggered the emissions in question.

Consequently, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality filed 15 enforcement orders against the defendant.

The suit adds BP failed to report the emissions in question to Austin within the required time period.

It seeks an injunction against the company to force immediate improvements as well as an imposition of financial penalties for the violations that could exceed $100 million.

A federal judge recently ordered BP to serve three years of probation and pay $50 million for its role in the deadly March 2005 explosion.

The oil giant must continue to abide by safety standards put in place by federal and state regulators after the blasts while on probation.

To date, BP has paid more than $1 billion in victim compensation and a fine of $21.4 million to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In response to the attorney general's complaint, spokesmen for BP say the company vows to "resolve this matter and address the state's concerns."

A hearing on the state's request for a temporary injunction is scheduled for June 29 in Austin.

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