BP pays $50 million for illegal emissions
Vol. 27 Winter 2012
HOUSTON – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in November resolved the State’s enforcement actions against BP Products North America Inc. In June 2009, the Attorney General’s Office charged BP with violating state environmental protection laws when a deadly explosion erupted at BP’s Texas City refinery. Under a proposed agreement, BP must pay the State of Texas $50 million for unlawfully emitting pollutants during and after the March 2005 explosion.
“The proposed agreement resolves the State’s enforcement actions against BP Products for unlawful pollutant emissions at its Texas City refinery,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. “The Texas Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting our State’s precious natural resources by enforcing environmental pollution laws. The proposed agreement reflects the State’s commitment to protecting air quality and holding polluters accountable for illegal emissions.”
According to the Attorney General’s 2009 enforcement action, BP was responsible for 72 separate – and unlawful – pollutant emissions that have been occurring every few months since March 2005. An explosion and related fires erupted at BP’s Texas City refinery in March 2005 that claimed 15 lives and injured more than 170 workers.
The State’s 2009 legal action against BP stemmed from a referral from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates and permits emissions at Texas refineries. After the Attorney General’s Office filed its original legal action against BP, the TCEQ submitted a second, related referral against BP Products. According to TCEQ investigators, multiple Texas Clean Air Act violations occurred at the Texas City refinery between April 6 and May 16 of 2010. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office filed a second enforcement action and charged BP with illegally emitting approximately 500,000 pounds of harmful air pollutants in Texas City.
Under the proposed agreement, BP Products is required to pay $50 million to the State of Texas. That amount includes $500,000 in costs that the Attorney General’s Office incurred while pursuing the State’s enforcement actions. The remainder of the $50 million reflects civil penalties that will be deposited in the State treasury.
The agreement “is an important milestone in the progress of operations” at the Texas City refinery, Daren Beaudo, a BP spokesman, told Bloomberg Businessweek in an e-mail. “BP has made major investments in our people, our plant and our processes to modernize the Texas City refinery, and we have an ongoing program of continuous improvement to further enhance plant safety and environmental compliance.”