Landmark Settlement will Protect Texas Citizens from Dangerous Air Pollution
December 1, 2010
On November 18, Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed a landmark settlement that will help citizens breathe easier in Texas. The proposed agreement would settle a several-year lawsuit against Chevron Phillips Chemical Company for hundreds of Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Cedar Bayou Chemical Plant, a complex of manufacturing facilities located in Baytown that is one of the largest in the Houston area.
Air quality in Harris County is consistently ranked as among the worst in the nation, particularly for ground-level ozone, or smog. The 1,200-acre Cedar Bayou plant is one of the largest sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) among the 275 industrial plants in Harris County. VOCs emitted by industrial facilities during upset events have been found to play a particularly significant role in causing many high ozone days in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area.
The settlement would bring significant changes to the complex, including mandatory reductions in air emissions from “upset” events, extensive operational upgrades, enhanced monitoring of air emissions, and payment of $2 million for past violations, which will fund a local environmental health project. In 2009, the environmental groups settled a similar Clean Air Act lawsuit against Shell Oil Company for violations at its Deer Park refinery and chemical plant complex. Shell similarly agreed to reduce upset emissions, and paid a record $5.8 million penalty.
As Neil Carmen, Clean Air Program Director for Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said, “[t]his settlement agreement represents a second major victory in our fight for clean air on Texas’s Gulf Coast. We urge other companies in the region to take note of Chevron Phillips’ willingness to work constructively with us in developing solutions to problems at the Cedar Bayou facility – problems that are not unique to Chevron Phillips.”
Details and Documents:
Environmental Groups and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. Agree to Settlement of Clean Air Act Lawsuit
November 18, 2010, Sierra Club & Environment Texas Press Release
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.