Environmentalists Sue ExxonMobil

Two environmental groups have announced a lawsuit against oil giant ExxonMobil, claiming the company’s Houston, Texas-area oil refinery and chemical plant complex has generated illegal amounts of air pollution.

The Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed the suit Tuesday in federal district court against ExxonMobil and two subsidiaries, alleging that “equipment breakdowns, malfunctions, and other non-routine incidents at the Baytown Complex since 2005 have resulted in the release of more than eight million pounds of pollutants into the surrounding air, frequently in violation of legal limits.”

The air pollutants allegedly including toxic chemicals such as benzene and hydrogen chloride, the groups said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks a court order forcing ExxonMobil to reduce its emissions and comply with the law, and civil penalties of up to 37,500 dollars per day for each violation of US environmental law.

The total amount of penalties could reach more than 81 million dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported.

ExxonMobil was not immediately available for comment.

The same environmental groups successfully forced Shell Oil Company to pay a 5.8 million dollar penalty and upgrade its Houston-area Dear Park refinery and chemical plant.

They also got Chevron Phillips Chemical Company to pay a 2 million dollar penalty and upgrade its Cedar Bayou Chemical Plant, also in Baytown.

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