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Chalmette’s ExxonMobil Guilty of Further Violations of Clean Air Act

(New Orleands, LA)

Federal Judge Sarah Vance ruled on Friday that ExxonMobil’s Chalmette Refining is guilty of two additional violations of the Clean Air Act and puts the responsibility for preventing further violations in the hands of the federal government. “Our law suit has clearly established ­ and the Judge agrees ­ that Exxon is a major Clean Air Act violator,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Now it’s time for them to clean up.”

In a case first filed in February of 2004, ExxonMobil’s Chalmette Refining has been found guilty of 2,665 violations of the Clean Air Act. “This litigation, commenced more than three years ago in an effort to address serious and sustained environmental problems in St. Bernard Parish caused by Chalmette Refining, has now resulted in a finding of liability against defendant for 2,665 violations of the Clean Air Act,” wrote Judge Vance (pp. 41 ­ 42). The Judge’s ruling on Friday included two additional violations.

Since the suit was filed by the citizen groups, the federal and state governments have negotiated with Exxon to reduce these violations, creating consent decrees with schedules and dates for clean up. “Moreover, it [the law suit brought by the St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade] almost certainly served as a major catalyst in the drafting and entry of the EPA and LDEQ consent decrees.” (p. 42)

“Obnoxious odors are still in the neighborhood,” said Ken Ford, who continues to document flares and problems at the refinery. The groups will be following the schedules laid out in the consent decree ­ some of which Exxon has already violated. Exxon is liable for fines based on missing these deadlines.

Judge Sarah Vance left the door open for further citizen enforcement.

“Certainly, if in time the settlements do not actually lead to compliance, plaintiffs may provide notice of the continued violations to EPA, LDEQ, and defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 7604 and ultimately may file another citizen suit.” (p. 42)