Texas AG sues BP over environmental violations

By Chris Rizo | Jun 4, 2009

Greg Abbott (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-The Texas attorney general has charged BP Products North America Inc. with violating state health, safety and environmental protection laws, his office said Thursday.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, alleges in a 97-page enforcement action that BP violated the Texas Clean Air Act, the Texas Water Code, and the Texas Health & Safety Code at its Texas City refinery.

The complaint, filed in Travis County District Court, cites 46 separate unlawful pollutant emissions at the refinery, including releases of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

The action includes the illegal emission linked to a March 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others.

The attorney general is seeking unspecified monetary damages for each day each violation that occurred plus legal fees.

"BP Products is charged with polluting our environment, concealing information from authorities and harming Texans," Abbott said in a statement. "In recent years, more than 45 unlawful pollutant emissions occurred at BP's Texas City facility. This enforcement action holds BP accountable for failing to comply with environmental, health and safety laws that are intended to protect Texans from harm."

The Texas City BP plant produces gasoline, distillates, fuel oil, sulfuric acid, petroleum coke and petrochemical feedstocks.

The complaint said the company has engaged in a "pattern of unnecessary and unlawful emissions" that led the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to file 15 enforcement orders against BP between 2000 and 2007.

The attorney general noted that the 2005 Texas City explosion led to the unlawful release of contaminants for more than 160 hours.

An investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found that the event was "avoidable" and stemmed from the defendant's "poor operations practices."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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