From: Associated Press
Published October 5, 2004 12:00 AM

Chevron Phillips to Pay $1.8 Million for Plant Explosions

HOUSTON — Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. has agreed to pay a $1.8 million civil penalty for Clean Air Act violations that led to releases of chemicals from a manufacturing plant in Pasadena in 1999 and 2000, resulting in two explosions and three deaths.

The penalty, the largest ever assessed for such a case, was announced Thursday after the Houston-based company reached the agreement with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Federal officials accused Chevron Phillips and its predecessor, Phillips Chemical Co., of failing to do enough to prevent accidental chemical releases at the plastic resin and specialty chemical manufacturing facility in the Houston suburb of Pasadena.

This resulted in two accidental explosions, in June 1999 and March 2000, that released 1,3-butadiene, a carcinogen, and other chemicals into the air, causing three deaths and injuring almost 100 workers.

Chevron Phillips acquired the facility from Phillips Chemical Co. shortly after the second explosion and has worked to improve its safety precautions.

In a statement, Chevron Phillips denied the allegations made by the federal government and said it only paid the penalty to resolve the issue.

The settlement, filed in Houston federal court, requires Chevron Phillips to follow extensive work practice requirements designed to ensure that the facility is operated in a manner that prevents accidental releases of chemicals.

In 2002, Phillips Chemical Co. agreed to pay more than $2.1 million in federal penalties for safety and health violations discovered at the complex.

Chevron Phillips will also perform two environmental projects in the community that will cost at least $1.2 million.

"The EPA will continue to work with Chevron Phillips and the regulated community to ensure that accidents like these are not repeated," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said.

Source: Associated Press

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