October 18, 2012 For Immediate Release
Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909
(New Orleans) Five-hundred thousand dollars is the fine that Motiva Enterprises, LLC must pay in a settlement with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality dated October 3, 2012. Though signed 15 days ago, the settlement went unreported and unnoted by the public. Motiva does not admit liability in the settlement which includes a range of civil violations under the Clean Air Act at its two refineries (Convent and Norco) in Louisiana. “This is a good first step but there should be more inspections, more fines and enforcement,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Exxon, Chalmette Refining, CITGO – there is a long list of refineries in this state that need inspection and enforcement. We support the workers in these refineries and know that if the greedy oil industry would loosen its grip on its profits, we could invest, make these refineries safer and let Louisiana workers do their jobs properly.”
The inspections on which the settlement is based were conducted from 2010 to 2012. The violations range from 2003 – 2010 and detail widespread problems at both refineries. The Motiva refinery appears to be in worse condition; the settlement includes a list of 265 violations at the facility. The Convent Refinery exceeds 140.
Among the most serious violations is the Motiva Refinery’s failure to legally operate its Catalytic Cracking Unit, one of the most important units in a refinery. The state notes that Motiva “failed to apply for Prevention of Significant Deterioration review” when it made changes to the unit in 2003 (p. 3). In this case, Motiva knew that its changes would have a significant impact on air quality by increased emissions of sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide, but failed to go through the required review of that emissions increase.
The refinery was also cited for operating without a permit. “The facility operated the modified RCCU unit (Residue Catalytic Cracking Unit) without approval from the permitting authority prior to operation of a facility which ultimately may result in an initiation or increase in air contaminants.” (p.3)
The settlement details over 140 violations at the Covent Refinery. Violations include leaking pipes, oil spills and chemicals to the atmosphere.
“This settlement shows that people in Norco and Convent have been polluted for a decade. Half a million dollars doesn’t begin to compensate for the harms to the health, environment and compromised potential that have resulted from Motiva’s recklessness,” said Ms. Rolfes. “This should be just the first step in a serious clamp down on industry that has gone rogue.”