ExxonMobil, EPA reach settlement over air pollution violations

ExxonMobil and the EPA have reached a settlement regarding allegations that the company has violated air pollution rules over the past decade at its petrochemical plants in Baytown, Beaumont and Mont Belvieu, as well as in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the agency announced October 31.

According to the settlement, the EPA, U.S. Justice Department and state of Louisiana allege that ExxonMobil failed to appropriately operate and monitor industrial flares at eight petrochemical plants in Texas and Louisiana, putting the company in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and placing neighboring communities in harm’s way.

Although ExxonMobil denies any violations, it will pay a $2.5 million fine, as well as spending about $300 million on air pollution controls and monitoring equipment to prevent future violations, per the agreement. Benzene is a known carcinogen that can contribute to adverse reproductive effects in women.

The upgrades will include flare gas recovery systems and the installation of benzene monitors along the fence-lines of some of the plant. These upgrades also will help to reduce air pollution from these facilities, including volatile organic compounds, a key ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, which can exacerbate health conditions like asthma and lung disease.

Air Alliance Houston is continuing to work with local elected officials and regulatory agencies, as well as other environmental groups, to promote change and new technologies to reduce significantly the emissions of these harmful pollutants and other air toxics.