ExxonMobil sued over Baton Rouge chemical plant's emissions
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An environmental group's lawsuit claims ExxonMobil Corp. continues to violate Clean Air Act regulations despite a 2014 settlement over emissions from the company's Baton Rouge chemical plant.
The federal suit, filed Thursday by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, alleges that pollution from the plant jeopardizes the health of nearby residents of a predominantly black, low-income area.
A 2014 settlement agreement with the state called for ExxonMobil to pay more than $2.3 million to resolve alleged permit violations over chemical releases and spills at four of its Louisiana facilities. The company agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty, fund more than $1 million in "beneficial environmental projects," and spend at least $1 million on projects designed to prevent and control spills at its Baton Rouge facility.
The Baton Rouge-based environmental group's lawsuit claims the company has repeatedly violated permitted pollution limits and failed to properly notify the state Department of Environmental Quality about alleged infractions.
The plant's neighbors deserve to be "fully informed of the risks they face," the suit says.
"Exxon's failure to properly report unauthorized discharges exacerbates these concerns because Plaintiffs do not know how much harmful pollution they are exposed to as a result of Exxon's emission," the suit adds.
ExxonMobil spokesman Todd Spitler said in a statement that the company's 2014 settlement agreement was "forceful and transparent" and was believed to be the first of its kind in Louisiana.
"Through the settlement and stipulated penalty structure, ExxonMobil worked with (the Department of Environmental Quality) to identify ways we can go beyond regulatory and permit requirements to continue to enhance our environmental performance going forward," he said.
The lawsuit asks the court to impose civil penalties, payable to the federal government, and set aside $100,000 in penalty proceeds for "beneficial mitigation projects within the community."
A statement issued by the Department of Environmental Quality in 2014 said the settlement agreement also addressed a string of alleged violations since 2008 at an ExxonMobil refinery, a resin finishing plant and a tank farm facility in West Baton Rouge Parish.