2 Petrochemical Companies to Pay Texas $6.5 Million

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Aug. 25 resolved the state's environmental enforcement action against two Lyondell Chemical Company subsidiaries that operated seven petrochemical plants in Houston and along the Gulf Coast.

Under an agreed final judgment proposed by the state, defendants Equistar Chemicals and Millenium Petrochemicals Inc. will each pay $3.25 million in penalties. In December 2006, the attorney general charged the Lyondell subsidiaries with repeatedly failing to prevent the release of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere.

Under the proposed agreement, Equistar and Millenium will each set aside $500,000 to fund supplemental environmental projects identified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The agreed final judgment is subject to court approval.

"Industrial growth must be balanced with environmental stewardship in order to ensure a bright future for our state," Abbott said. "We are committed to working with industry leaders to protect the quality of our air, water, and natural resources for future generations."

An investigation by the TCEQ revealed that seven Lyondell facilities released harmful emissions, including volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide, into the atmosphere over a long period of time. The TCEQ discovered that the defendants' plants in La Porte, Channelview, and Chocolate Bayou either ignored long-term pollutant releases or did very little to remedy chronic problems over time. For example, investigators found that Millennium's La Porte plant may have allowed its pressurized rail cars to vent uncontrolled chemical emissions directly into the atmosphere. Plants in Corpus Christi, Bayport, and Beaumont self-reported multiple violations to the TCEQ.

The defendants' required self-reporting to TCEQ indicated that Equistar and Millennium failed to implement required detection and repair programs that should have addressed valve, connector, pump, and other component leaks. According to the defendants' own reports, thousands of components were ignored.

For years, the Houston area has been designated an ozone non-attainment zone by the federal government. Polluters in these zones are required to implement controls and technological innovations that curb ozone-forming emissions into the air. Ozone is commonly known as "smog."

The Lyondell, Equistar, and Millennium companies manufacture basic chemicals and derivatives such as ethylene, propylene, titanium oxide, styrene, polyethylene, propylene oxide, and acetyls. The seven plants involved in the state's environmental enforcement action are located in La Porte, Channelview, Chocolate Bayou, Corpus Christi, Bayport, and Beaumont.

For more information, visit www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

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