The Louisiana Environmental Action Network sued ExxonMobil Corp. Thursday, claiming the chemical facility in Baton Rouge continues to violate the Clean Air Act and fails to report these pollution releases correctly.
ExxonMobil representatives said Friday that all the incidents included in the lawsuit have been or will be addressed.
Filed in federal court in Baton Rouge, the lawsuit says the plant continues to release thousands of pounds of harmful pollution despite a 2014 settlement with Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality over previous violations.
That $2.3 million settlement included penalties, fines and money to go toward environmental projects in the area. The settlement also sets out how future violations would be handled. These stipulated penalties in the agreement assign specific payments for specific violations with incremental increases to keep any future problems minimal, DEQ said at the time.
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network filed its notice of intent to sue early last year, a procedural requirement under the Clean Air Act intended to give the groups a chance to sit down and talk to work out differences.
Marylee Orr, the environmental group’s executive director, said they did have talks with ExxonMobil last year that were open and productive, but some information, such as the type and level of pollution, was never provided.
“We’re actually disappointed it’s gotten to this point,” Orr said of the lawsuit but added that the community near the facility didn’t want to wait any longer. “People deserve to have clean air.”
ExxonMobil representatives released a statement in response to the lawsuit outlining improvements in air quality and reductions in pollution emissions since 1990 at the refinery and chemical plant.
“These improvements represent an investment of more than $200 million in environmental programs and activities every year at our Baton Rouge area sites,” the statement says.
In addition, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network has had many chances to comment on the 2014 settlement with DEQ, and chemical plant air incidents are addressed either by the settlement or are covered under the related stipulated penalty, wrote Stephanie Cargile, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge public and government affairs manager.
The lawsuit is asking the court to order the facility to stop Clean Air Act violations and to impose a civil penalty of $37,500 per violation per day for each of ExxonMobil’s Clean Air Act violations since March 3, 2011. The lawsuit estimates there were at least 120 violations of the act during that time.
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