The Sierra Club has accused the largest U.S. oil refinery, owned by Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), of violating the Clean Air Act and other pollution laws thousands of times during the last five years, allegedly releasing more than 10 million pounds worth of pollution into the air.
The Sierra Club has also recently sued Shell and forced the company into a $5.8 million settlement over Clean Air Act violations and has filed a lawsuit against Chevron Phillips. The organization has not yet sued Exxon Mobil, but has notified the company as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of plans do so.
The notices sent to the organizations outline violations that Exxon measured and reported itself, as well as accusations that the plant violates emissions limits for sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain; hydrogen sulfide, a toxic, flammable gas characterized by a rotten egg smell; cancer-causing agents such as benzene and butadiene; carbon monoxide; and nitrogen oxide, a cause of smog.
Exxon Mobil reported all of the incidents and claimed in many cases that they did not consider the actions as “deviations” because they did not violate the limitations of the air operating permit for the refinery, located 35 miles southeast of Houston.
The company confirmed on Wednesday that it had received the notice of intent to sue and said that it works closely with the EPA and various Texas regulators to control and report emissions from its refineries. The firm said that it reduced benzene emissions by 70 percent between 1990 and 2008, as well as significantly reducing other pollutants in the past decade.
“We continue to make significant improvements in the environmental performance of our Baytown complex through emissions controls, technology enhancements and process changes,” the statement said.